So after much prayer and wrestling--with God, with my wife, with myself--I accepted the call to come to ACL at the end of July. Agony aside, I haven't doubted the rightness of the decision in any significant way, but that doesn't mean there haven't been moments of panic. The decision may be right: my wife and I prayed about this a lot, and I do feel called to the job. But there are still times when I wonder if I'm really the person they want--if I'm really anywhere near to the person they think I am. I've been grateful during this process for friends and mentors who are standing with me, whispering (OK, sometimes they're yelling) encouragement in my ear and confirming that this is the right place for me to serve. Up to now I've gotten by on that support, plus I knew that this was a half-year away.
But it just got a lot more real. How?
Yesterday we--my wife Julie and I--met with a realtor about leasing our house while we're in the UK. Like a lot of Southern Californians we couldn't possibly buy our own home if we had to do it all over again--it's worth 3 times what we paid for it in 1998. We'll be moving out in November because our furniture and everything else needs to ship to the UK so it will be there not too long after we arrive at the end of December. So we're talking about the process of renting the house, and the realtor mentions the need for a lockbox, as in that thing that sits on your porch so that the house can be shown if we're not there. I'm not sure why, but that hit us both like a punch in the gut. We've got to have our house show-ready within a few weeks if we're going to get someone in here by December 1st.
The move is also more real now because I bought our plane tickets. Three days after Christmas we'll hop on a plane and move to London. Just writing that is so strange to me.
Another way it became real happened at work. In the process of making plans for my present office, a colleague made it pretty clear that my opinion wasn't nearly as important as I thought it was. I think the part that stung was that she was right. I've been working so hard not to disengage from my work, to do a good job right up until I leave, that I'd missed a place where backing off was precisely what was called for. It took a few hours to bounce back from that one.
My son, who is 6 years old, will attend a smallish private school in London. His teacher emailed us the other day and said that he had a desk in the classroom with his name already on it, and that a boy named Lucas was looking forward to being his friend. First off, that was an exceptionally kind thing to do. My son has been talking about his teacher by name ever since we got the note. But it also made me face the fact that I'm taking him along on this calling that really focuses on me. Whatever pressure there is to live up to the church's expectations is nothing compared to how I feel about changing my son's entire life.
My wife is going through an even more dramatic change. She's a hairdresser, and has had her own business for 20 years--she's had some clients for even longer than that. It's like a death for her, giving up this business that sustained her for so long, that helped her raise her daughter into the great young woman that she is. I admire her so much for making this move with me. I miss so many great opportunities to tell her so.
There are 78 days until we leave. God, make me ready.