Over the past couple of weeks, myself and many others in my ‘circle’ have begun undergoing many changes. Though I know that God is at work in my life, as well as the lives of all the others affected by these changes, it is still difficult to navigate them.
The first change was announced one Sunday morning in church, near the end of our morning service, just a couple weeks ago. Our pastor announced he was leaving us and returning to home, to the church he grew up in, to work with and learn from, the very man who had led him to Jesus, baptized him, etc. My heart sunk with this announcement.
You see, this pastor, Bro. Jared, has meant so much to my family over the 4-5 years we have known him. He and his wife have led our church very well, taking us through a very dry time when we didn’t know how we were going to continue to pay our bills, and guiding us in decisions following a huge blessing to our church.
This announcement came on July 6. July 18 marked the 4th anniversary of the date that this young man, young enough to be my son, baptized me! His sermons and leadership in Bible studies, as well as his answers to the many questions I have had, have taught me so much over these 4 years and I just can’t imagine keeping up that level of learning without his teaching!
His wife, Liz, is just as special to me, to all of us! She has led Bible studies very well, poured her heart out to show all of us that she is a REAL person and not someone to be put up on a pedestal because she is “the preacher’s wife.” Her willingness to make herself vulnerable to those of us in this particular Bible study inspired me to open myself up to others as well! She showed me that many times what we see on the outside is a good cover for what is hidden in the memory bank. She helped me to realize that to open myself up to the right people, could be very freeing to me! I can’t thank her enough for that.
To say my heart sunk is really an understatement. I was in shock. I knew this day would come because Jared is a family man and most of his family attends the church where he will now be Associate Pastor. But for me, and I can only speak for myself though I know of many who have very similar feelings, my heart broke into a million pieces when he said those words. I felt shattered. At that moment my thoughts consisted of, “NO! He can’t do this to us, to me!” and “what is going to happen to us, to our church now?” I now realize that those were some pretty selfish thoughts.
But I have to admit that I have shed more tears over his leaving, and I know there are still more to come, than I have shed in a very long time. In fact, following his announcement, as I walked to my truck to leave church, I noticed other members walking to their vehicles in the same state of shock and disbelief as me. We all looked like a bunch of zombies leaving church that day! When I finally made it to my truck and got inside, the sobs began. The hard, rib shaking, heaving, sobs that you expect to see when someone very close to you has died! I could not control the tears! I would try to catch my breath and stop the flow, but after several attempts I realized it was useless to try to stop. I needed to just go ahead and let the sobs and tears flow, get it out of my system, hopefully.
Well the hard tears continued for the next week or so. Every time I would think of them leaving, the tears would just start all over again. I jokingly told Jared that he wasn’t allowed to leave us. I was going to take our church van and a group of members to the church he was going to on the night they were to vote him in, and stage a protest!! But I knew that was silly.
Besides, he had informed us of his impending departure following a powerful sermon on…..obedience. He was clicking along with this sermon on how we are to be obedient to God no matter what when he asked all the congregation, “do you agree we are to obey God, no matter what?” Those who answered said yes, they agreed with that. Jared asked that question a couple more times when he finally said “I’m so glad to know you feel that way.” Then he proceeded to tell us of how he had been asked to come to that church several times in the past, but he always declined because he did not feel the time was right. He continued by telling us that he and his wife had talked about it, and prayed, and discussed some more, and prayed some more, and after much prayer and discussion, they felt that God was leading them to this new position. He said “We have to be obedient.”
Even now, as I remember the sudden hush and feeling of dread that came over the sanctuary that morning, the tears come once again. I’ve never been involved in a pastor search, or even a part of a church when there was not a full-time pastor in place. This is not so much frightening to me as it is unsettling.
I am the kind of person who likes to know what to expect. I like things to stay close to a routine, not exactly the same, but close. Now I am filling out search committee nomination forms and wondering who is going to be preaching for us this coming Sunday since Jared’s last official day with us is tomorrow!
I think I could have handled it much better if I hadn’t been hit with another major change in my life at the same time. But on the very same day, another ton of bricks hit me square in the face! My daughter and her family, who have lived next door or across the road from us since the birth of my first grandson, are moving to a different town! I think the biggest hurt about this move was because of the way I found out about it.
I didn’t get a phone call, no text message, and certainly no personal conversation. I found out when I came home from church that Sunday and saw my son in law’s truck with a trailer hitched on and backed up to their front door, loading things up. I tried calling and texting my daughter to find out what was going on, but wasn’t getting any answers. After a day or two of this, I finally got an answer telling me that yes, they were moving!
Even now I feel that knife piercing my heart repeatedly, actually several knives at once. The first knife being communication (or lack of) between my daughter and I. I know I am at fault for that. I’ve not been the best mom. I’ve made mistakes. But I’ve also made changes to try to better myself and thought I was doing pretty good! But the lack of communication was my fault because I didn’t go to her house to find out what was going on, when I didn’t know if she was there or not.
The second knife was the grandkids. I was no longer going to see them every day, even if some days it was just seeing them in the distance as they played outside. And they weren’t coming to say goodbye to me or their Pawpaw.
We were really feeling like we must have done something to cause some hard feelings but could not think of what it might be! I still have that feeling and I still have no idea of what I have done.
I have to take myself back to the sermon Jared preached on July 6. Be obedient, NO MATTER WHAT!! That is really a hard pill to swallow sometimes! But, if we want to grow closer and closer to God, to build our relationship and strengthen it with Him, we have no other choice but to listen closely to what He is telling us, and to obey.
So I pray. I pray that God will show me what it is He is wanting me to do. I pray that my children will all realize that I truly love them and want to spend time with them and with the grandbabies. I also want them to realize that my life is continually changing as I grow in my relationship with God and there are some things that I just don’t care to participate in or to be around. It’s not because I am judging anyone, but I don’t care to be around a bunch of people drinking, cursing, and being seriously disobedient to how God tells us to lead our lives!!
I’m not saying I am perfect. Not by a long shot!! But to be obedient, I need to keep a distance from those who are being disobedient, so I don’t get pulled back into old habits, old ways. I want those good, close relationships, and I am trying to do things to build them. But there are times, pretty much all the time, that I feel like II am the only one who wants that closeness.
If I say anything to anyone about that I am accused of seeking attention or having a pity party. “Just get over it” is a phrase I’ve heard quite often.
Through all of this I have learned quite a bit about myself. I am stronger than I thought. I need my family but they don’t appear to need me, other than my husband, or in the case of some of the others – if they need something. This really saddens me. I know what I will be told about this, “well, you brought it on yourself!” Maybe I did. But whatever I have done, is it truly something that is unforgivable? I have struggled with forgiveness toward others for things of my past for a very long time and finally realized that I had to forgive so I could move on! Now I find myself asking, is it really impossible to forgive me for whatever hurt I have caused?
So, with these major changes going on in my life, I am having a hard time right now, many tears continue to fall on a regular basis. But I have realized that I need to spend more time with God. Every time I start to feel the pain of these changes, I need to turn to Jesus! I am trying to do just that because I know that He is the way, the truth, and the life! I know that somehow, through all of this, God will be glorified!!
So I am trying to be obedient……and let go.