Led by God's Hand

Lauren Pulley

"Life is pain, highness" the Dread Pirate Roberts/Westley tells Buttercup in the classic film The Princess Bride. "Anyone who says differently is selling something."

Like many, I grew up loving this movie. Our family returned often to Blockbuster to rent it, until my parents decided it would save us both time and money to just go ahead and buy the VHS. Our dinner conversations were peppered with movie lines, and my brothers and I could recite many scenes from memory. Perhaps this is why, 15 years later, the above quote comes back to me frequently. But now, my mind and experiences have tweaked the wording slightly, and this is what echoes in my heart:

"Life is change.  Anyone who says differently is selling something." 

Our year and a half at seminary so far, the first four years of marriage before we arrived here, the birth of our children, the anticipation of the future after my husband's graduation, and the day-by-day living out our vocation as children of God and discerning what that looks like from one season to the next—these have been packed with experiences of change. Change is the very nature of life experiences, period. And when I stop being open to change, I stop being open to growth. I stop being open to God. 

How easy it is to get comfortable ("finally") and feel like I have arrived. "Finally" moving to St. Vladimir's, after a long season of searching our hearts, receiving counsel, and getting out of debt, not to mention packing up our home and saying goodbye to my home parish of 18 years...only to realize that, although I went through a wrenching change to get here, there was to be no sitting comfortably and congratulating myself on arriving. And how grateful I am for the last year and half of challenge, prayer, growth, and friendship! 

There are other, daily, invitations to change. From going with the flow of my husband's every-varying seminarian schedule, to adapting my expectations of my role in church as a mother of two young boys and with a husband who has other tasks during services (I am having a season away from the choir); from saying goodbye to graduating friends in June and meeting new friends and neighbors in the fall; to letting go one mental timeline of our lives after another as plans shift and we receive direction, I have near-constant choices to make about how I will respond to change. 

It is a struggle to continue to open up my hands, plans, family, and finances to God.  But there is no other path to Life, and "anyone who says differently is selling something."

Francois Fenelon writes in The Royal Way of the Cross, "If you persist in serving [God] in one place or one way rather than another, you are serving Him according to your will, not His. But if you are ready to go anywhere and do anything [and then go anywhere and do anything again, I think to myself], this is indeed taking up your cross and following Him." I read this passage this week, a timely reminder in the midst of an already-busy, and ever so blessed, semester. "Do not be afraid of anything on your way. God will lead you by the hand, if only you trust Him completely, and are filled with love for Him rather than fear for yourself."

Life is change! Thanks be to God, Who infuses every moment with the invitation to repent, to cling to Him, and to grow into His image, wherever the journey may lead. 

Lauren Pulley grew up as a missionary kid and later as a priest's kid, as her family's journey led them into the Orthodox Church. Her parents, Fr. David and Mat. Rozanne Rucker (now OCMC missionaries serving at St. Herman's Seminary), began a church in their living room in Kentucky when Lauren was nine years old. The parish was brought into the Orthodox Church in America (Diocese of the South) in 2002 as St. Athanasius Orthodox Church. Lauren served in the choir, children's and youth ministries, and later on the parish council, before moving to St. Vladimir's Seminary with her husband and son. She has a Masters in Education and has taught World History.

Lauren is married to Wesley (no relation to the Dread Pirate Roberts), a second-year M.A. student who is preparing for ordination, if God wills. He received his M.Div. from Asbury Seminary and served as a youth and associate pastor before joining the Orthodox Church. Lauren and Wes were married after his reception into the Church and now have two sons, James and Walter. They hope to serve God in the OCA's Diocese of the South after Wes's graduation in May.