Two red birds

These last two years stateside, I’ve been praying for my husband every time I spied a red bird. The whole red bird thing started in France, where, surprise-surprise, they have red birds too. Something about the startling beauty of a red bird flying through the sky or contrasted in front of a thicket or forest that caught my eye. And in that noticing, God said, “Pray for your husband when you see a red bird.”

So I prayed.

I prayed through team dynamics.

I prayed through disappointments, depressions.

I prayed as we helped our children endure French schools.

I prayed through my husband’s endless decision making.

I prayed through his sermons (words that changed my life and still stay with me today).

I prayed through our mutual disappointment with how things turned out.

I prayed through the decision to come home.

I prayed as my husband grappled with the loss of a ministry dream.

And I prayed through our slow process of healing.

All while single red birds circled the sky.

Funny thing, those red birds. I’ve only seen them alone. One by one. Flashy reminders to pray for my husband.

But a few days ago, God gave me a gift. As I ran, I prayed. And as I prayed, two red birds circled the sky. It was as if God was saying He would heal the two of us, not just my husband individually, not just me individually. He would knit the two of us back together after trauma. What a beautiful picture that was for me.

I can attest that severe ministry stress hurts a marriage. We once shared our story of France with a dear friend who’d served in ministry his whole life and encountered loads of hurt. Now nearing 80 years old, we figured he’d nod our way when he heard our story and say something like, “Oh yeah, welcome to ministry.” But he didn’t. He said something like, “Wow, I’ve never heard anything like that. That’s a really difficult story.”

It felt good to hear those words, to have a saint validate the hardness of our journey.

For a time I think we both flew in harried circles, desperately trying to keep airborne. But I’ve sensed a turning. A holy turning. It’s like we flew in a wide sky and suddenly discovered we didn’t like flying alone. We found each other, and now we’re flying together.

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