About two weeks ago I lead my sister in law's memorial service. I felt it was a great honor to be asked to do so and trusted with such a tender time for all involved. I felt though that it was a gift I could give Donna and a gift to my brother. While I hope it was received as a heartfelt gift and I suspect it was, I really was the one who has received the gift. First I was able to identify a significant part of my call story that I didn't identify as a part of it before. When I was 14 I wrote a poem when my grandfather died that was read at the funeral. I eulogized both my dad and step dad. Then I lead my grandmother's memorial. I thought at one point that I would never be off the hook again. I suppose this is a part of my gifts, part of my call to this life of ministry. The strength I had the day we said good bye to Donna, it wasn't mine, there was nothing less in those moments than a strength that came from God. It is weird to find a part of your pastoral identity at your sister in law's funeral.
When I finished the service many people came up to me and thanked me and said beautiful things about my ability. I did for a moment question if people were just being nice but Paul said no, if it was bad they wouldn't have said anything. This is where the gift really comes, in this horrible moment, I was able to in a very small way minister to my family, which is not something they would have seen otherwise. I felt like in this very holy moment my family saw who I am created to be and what I am called to and why. This has been one of my strongest struggles in accepting my call to lead God's people, that my family doesn't understand and I wished that they could.
Last night I posted the text of the memorial to a special blog page so people who weren't able to make it could read it. Again the affirmation is pouring in and I am humbled.
It is not the best place or circumstance to receive such affirmation but there it was, there it is. It is creating a new sort of confidence in me. Yet, I feel kind of guilty, this isn't about me, it is about the loss of a loved one and the memory of her life, it's about God. Here I am though feeling very me things.
Selfish as I may feel I am grateful for the gift of affirmation I have received and even more grateful for getting to share my authentic self with the people whom I hold so dear to my heart.