She was ordained to ministry today; meaning that her home church ceremonially confirmed that she is "called" to serve God with her work and her life, and that she is, indeed, doing so. Baptist-style ordination is a mixture of formal prayers and responsive readings and informal speaking by people who were significant in the life of the one being ordained. It was a unique day for Dana, where she was the center of attention, affection and affirmation.
It was a unique day for me, too. Dana had spoken with me to personally invite me to attend, and followed up with a written invitation by mail.
I accepted. I drove to Caroline County and walked into a beautiful, rural Baptist church. It was slightly awkward.
Slightly awkward because Dana and I have a unique relationship.
We're both "Mrs. Brawley".
Dana met and married Lonnie - my kids' dad - last year.
As we have carefully and tentatively navigated the waters of interacting, managing kids' schedules and figuring out how to communicate, we discovered something interesting: we liked each other.
I mean, I really like this woman. I respect her and admire her. She's funny, focused on ministry and passionate. She cares deeply for my children. And she takes good care of the man who was once the most important person in my life.
I swear, I can't sort it out. She and I both acknowledge that it's very weird.
But it is what it is.
I came to the service anticipating that I would simply be a witness. I found a place in the next-to-last pew, in the very back of the church, planning to stay out of sight and out of mind, while still honoring the invitation.
But Dana sent Sarah back to get me. She had saved me a seat, up front.
With the family.
At the end of the ordination service, all those present were invited to speak privately with Dana as she kneeled at the front of the church. Church members, family, friends, co-workers, fellow pastors - for an hour, people streamed by to whisper a prayer, speak words of encouragement, offer a hug. There were many tears. As I watched others stream by, I considered what I should do.
In the end, I went forward and knelt before the woman who is now married to the man that I married almost 20 years ago. We shared words and a hug.
It's weird. It's awkward at times.
But more than anything, to me it's a great demonstration of the reality of this statement:
"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8.28 (NLT)
And I believe it is proof that grace covers everything, if you just open your heart and let it in.
I don't know if anybody has ever figured out what this sort of relationship ought to be like. I'm just gonna roll with it. It's working, and it's good.
And I'm grateful.