Unqualified, But Called
By: Northern Seminary
2016 has been a rough year. January hit my husband Aaron and me hard, like a snowstorm to our souls. It seemed like every area of our life was under attack, and we were exhausted.
After having a funeral every week for three weeks in a row, I capped off the emotional month by agreeing to be a pastoral presence at a remembrance service. This was a unique service led by my friend Jeff to mark the 20th anniversary of his daughter Rachel’s disappearance.* But the service wasn’t only for Rachel. It was for all families of missing people to gather, remember, and support each other. I was honored, overwhelmed, and completely unqualified to be there.
As I drove to the service, my car slid on wet asphalt. I had no control as I gently slid into the car in front of me. In my emotionally-frayed state, I could do nothing but sit behind the steering wheel and cry as the people in front of me stepped out of their car. (I am convinced that the people in the other car were angels, because they were kind, caring, forgiving, and understanding. No damage was done to their car. My car only has a bent license plate.)
I was one block away from the remembrance ceremony.
As I gingerly pulled into the parking lot, still shaking from the accident, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What am I doing here? And what can I possibly offer these people who have lost so much? I have nothing to offer.”
When I walked into the gym where the service was being held, I thought I would see a bunch of strangers, but what I saw was a family.
The room was full of people with missing loved ones.
Daughters, sons, husbands, wives.
There was so much loss.
So many unanswered questions.
So little closure.
But there was also a bond forged from knowing that everyone was going through the same thing.
They were family for each other.
Participants read names of more than 200 people who are missing from Illinois.
Photos of some of the missing family members were displayed.
And purple balloons were released.
Purple, Rachel’s favorite color, was everywhere.
The service was powerful, moving, and heartbreaking.
I read names of missing loved ones.
I prayed for the families.
And it felt like a drop of comfort in an ocean of pain.
After the service ended, I walked to my car with the newly-dented license plate.
I pulled out of my parking space slower than a snail.
And I felt something welling up in me.
It was a sense of calling.
I was still completely overwhelmed.
I had no answers for the grieving families.
I couldn’t stop the avalanche of problems that came in January.
And I couldn’t un-dent my license plate.
But there was still a strong sense of calling and purpose.
Unqualified as I was, I was where I needed to be that day.
Unqualified. But called.
* If you have any information about Rachel, please visit www.rachelfind.com. And to learn more about the remembrance service held for Rachel and for other missing loved ones, you can read the Chicago Tribune article here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-sun/news/ct-nvs-rachel-mellon-missing-memorial-st-0203-20160131-story.html.