Lorenzo and I have been going to First Church for nearly 20 years.  We were married there in 2001.  Our children were baptized at First Church, and now go to Sunday school and youth group there.  We’ve been co-youth leaders, served on various committees, participated in casual services, formal services, children’s services, evening services, sunrise services, holiday services, and special services.  We’ve rarely missed an all-church camping trip. People are startled to learn that we do all this as a family and we’ve been divorced since 2010.

Lorenzo and I credit our ongoing, loving, post-divorce family relationship to First Church.  Divorce is never easy and it certainly wasn’t for us – it was hard on our children and hard on us as parents and spouses.  But in our time of hurt and anger, our church family remained steadfastly present and walked with both of us – all of us – through the break.  Over the months we struggled, this church family dried our tears, counseled us, and listened to us without judgment as we mourned and raged and wept.  Although we were broken, the church became the healing hands of Christ and held us together as individuals and as a family.  Little by little, with the help of our church family and a great deal of the Holy Spirit, we were able to form a new and different kind of “nuclear” family, forged of forgiveness and compassion.

In 2016 I suffered a near-deadly car accident while traveling in Southern California.  While I was stuck six hours from home undergoing surgeries over many weeks, Lorenzo and the church stepped up and made sure the kids were fully fed, cared for, reassured and comforted.  I came home to find that Lorenzo and our church family had been hard at work rearranging my entire house to make sure it was wheelchair accessible, and in the following weeks so many delicious meals were delivered to me that my freezer was overflowing.  Lorenzo and our church family have never stopped stepping up when needed, as continuing surgeries – ongoing repercussions of the accident – have sidelined me a number of times in the years since.

While Lorenzo and I are no longer romantic partners and no longer share one household, we are now bound by deeper and more spiritual ties: love of God, our children, our church family and even one another, just in a different way.  We will never be able to adequately express our deep gratitude to God and this church.