Dan Stringer

navigating the convergence of faith, culture and the common good

On turning 30

October 9, 2010

Welcome to the new site! Glad you found it.

Having internally debated a switch over to WordPress for quite some time now, I figured my 30th birthday would be an auspicious occasion to finally take the plunge. So here I am, blogging on mon anniversaire.

It’s always a jolt when your odometer clicks over into a new decade. Far more than just another candle on the (cup)cake, there’s a behemothic difference between 29 and 30. Gargantuan. Jumbo. Now halfway to 60, I’m closer to 40 and further from 20 with each passing day. Resistance is futile so I might as well just say it: I’ll never again be in my twenties. Kleenex please.

Not that I’m opposed to settling down, assuming I had a career/job/education worth settling on. Coming off a season of church ministry burnout when I began grad school in social work over 2 years ago, I seriously thought I had found my calling. After all, social workers advocate for vulnerable populations (check), help a diverse array of people overcome obstacles (check), work for the common good (check) and represent a growing occupational field (check). Turns out I wasn’t too far off, except that I underestimated my passion for theology, preaching and the good old-fashioned challenge of tending sheep. It was enough to lure me out of my comfortable, but passionless government cubicle and back into bi-vocational ministry (again).

And that’s when the cancer struck our littlest boy.

Tumors, chemo, feeding tubes, morphine and the whole bit. Rebecca has faithfully documented the ensuing medical, emotional and spiritual roller coaster far better than I ever could, but suffice it to say that my once-sophisticated flurry of balancing grad school, vocational discernment and seminary plans has given way to the most visceral of human basics: fighting to preserve your child’s life. Like good evangelicals, we’ve prayed our eyes out and leaned on the church. Vincent’s on every prayer list I can think of and the outpouring of support has helped us stay afloat. We even flew him up to Bethel Church last month to soak in more healing prayer than you could shake a stick at.

Things aren’t looking too good these days, but we’re still ready for a miracle. For those who are wondering, I’ve stopped questioning God on this as if it was primarily a test of my beliefs. My theology is actually in much better shape than my kid. Abandoning Jesus, the suffering servant who died for his enemies, always creates far more problems than it ever solves. However things turn out, I’m sure the Holy Trinity will still be around. As will the church universal and the timeless words of Scripture. Even my beloved bookshelf laden with theological tomes will still echo (some) wisdom.

No, I’m not concerned about losing my faith, I’m just deathly afraid of losing my son. He just got here 17 months ago. And I want to see him turn 30 someday.