Toto, We Are Not In Texas Anymore

In May of 1997, I graduated from Baylor and set off to adult. I quickly learned that adult-ing is really not all that it is cracked up to be. I moved to Alvin, TX for the summer and worked in full-time youth ministry. Lucas and I saw each other on the weekends and while he loved playing sports with “my kids” he wasn’t quite sure about the schedule. His family and personal reference point was the chemical industry. He knew labs and turnarounds and emergency calls. Lock-ins and mission trips and 10 day trips on charter buses in Colorado were new territory. I tried to teach him with great excitement but until that point in his life, church was a Sunday morning thing not a 24/7 way of life.

August brought a hard decision. With my imminent departure out of state and his junior year at TAMU ahead, we decided to stay together. From our first hard conversation, we made a commitment that as long as we were having fun, we would be together. Long distance relationships are really anything but “fun,” but we wanted to try. So we called and wrote letters (yes, young people, we used handwriting and stamps) and even discovered this amazing tool called email. I did not have a computer in my dorm, so I would walk to the computer lab and hold my breath with excitement while I opened this thing they called an inbox. I still have all of those emails printed in a book. We needed to get a life. Only in the midst of young love can you find that many things to talk about. Knowing what I do about my husband, I still can’t imagine how he tolerated that many words.

Before I go on, let me give you a very unscientific description of seminary. From my experience, people go to seminary for 3 primary reasons:

  1. They are called by God to ministry and gifted with a specific skill set. Seminary is a place of clarification and training.
  2. They are unsure about their future and in light of unease, no one argues when you say you are “called by God.” Seminary is a good place to delay next steps.
  3. They are wounded and broken in profound ways. “Being” spiritual is a lovely way to hide in the safe world of professional Jesus and avoid hard interior work.

I can honestly say that #1 and #3 were equally true for me. I knew that I had some serious festering wounds that needed attention. The world told me I was capable and gifted. My heart told me that I was broken and useless. The Church convinced me that they could “fix” me.  Within weeks of life in a new state, with no one I knew and a constant state of spiritual roller coastering, this year was setting up for a crash and burn of epic proportions.

After only about 6 weeks at school, I developed physical symptoms that were a cause for alarm. This required further testing, a trip by my mom for a procedure and ultimately surgery over Christmas break. Without an understanding of the spiritual and emotional changes that were taking place in my life, my body began to take the stress and internalization out on itself.

In a brilliant attempt to find my space and place and independence, I called Lucas and told him we should not date anymore. Few times in my life have I seen him mad. And Lucas mad is really disturbing. It begins with a 3 sentence moment of a passionate raised voice. There is no colorful language, just a clear expression of disgust. This is then followed by an eerie calm that in someone with my wiring would mean that a mass murder is about to occur. In Lucas, it is simply a processing tool. There is no screaming. There is no throwing. There is no door slamming.  There is no sarcasm. It’s absolutely bizarre.

After the three sentence fit,  and one more questioning phone call, the calm commenced with these words, “Do what you need to do, I’ll be here waiting.”

Damn, Lucas Hilbrich. Nice mic drop.

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