Do you remember?
Do you remember those times when you knew everything that was going to happen? Do you remember when you had your whole life ahead of you and so much, if not all of it, planned out exactly?
Do you remember?
Do you remember when it all changed? Do you remember that moment when everything around you looked so different than the picture you had painted in your mind, then you had dreamed about to your friends, then you had prayed for in those quiet moments?
Recently, I had the honor and privilege to walk a small part of my friend’s journey with him as his whole world that he knew collapsed. He has seen everything leave that he thought was permanent. We talked and reminisced about our college days and how the “us” of then would probably harshly judge the “us” of today. Neither of our lives are turning out the way we thought. Really, it was because we held on to an ideal of the way life is supposed to go if you get everything right. We’ve learned we can’t be that narcissistic. We don’t have as much control over our lives as we think.
Seventeen years ago when I started my journey in professional church work, I could see the future. A future filled with a long and loving marriage, because I would be committed. A future filled with kids that looked just like me and would carry on the Kral ways. A future filled with growing ministries, success and respect from so many for the hard work and dedication I would pour into my work and mission.
Today, my life doesn’t have any of those things. The marriage that I was in at that time fell apart. The reality of having biological kids that would look just like me came to never be. Ministry would end up hurting more than helping my journey. I’m not in it any longer in a professional, preaching, paid-leadership sort of way.
As I talked with my friend about what we had thought things would be and how they actually ended up, I realized my tone, thoughts and feelings were not ones of abysmal failure I had expected them to be. As I sat there in his new home, getting to know his incredible new life, I spoke with wonder and awe about how we had thought it would be one way, but it’s actually more beautiful than we expected.
Things changed, things hurt, things disappointed, but today, today is still beautiful.
As we walked through the park today I took the picture above. Today, I’m a stepdad and adoptive dad. I’m a husband to someone I didn’t know 17 years ago, but is my life and my inspiration. I serve hundreds of families and connect with those who get to experience the church in me because they would have never experienced the church within its own walls.
As we walked, I was amazed at how things changed. My middle son who can be a goofball at times and is still finding his own way, spoke up. He looked over the vastness of the park, the towering trees and giant green fan type leaves covering the ground beneath us. As the sun beamed through the leaves and struck our faces, he spoke up. He said, “Dad, it’s beautiful.” Those are the words I use to describe God’s creation every time I’m in awe. I have my boys stop and just take it in and say, “Boys, isn’t God’s work beautiful?”
My boys aren’t my blood, but, man, they’re an embodiment of everything it is to be a Kral. They carry things on I couldn’t have passed on through genetics and love me and their lives in an extremely powerful way.
Things change. Things are not as I had thought. But, man, things are beautiful.
Notice the change, friends. Notice the new directions and new realities you face. Take it all in, breath it all in, and breath back out how beautiful this unexpected life of yours can be.