Saturday, September 12, 2015

It's Personal

I started writing this a couple hours ago with a really different title and a very different purpose. I was thinking about what it takes to make good choices in life, about what it takes to keep feelings and emotions from leading us along into really bad choices. One of the things I think it takes to help keep us in a good place is a solid Christian community and good trusted friends who know Jesus. But as I started reflecting on this I realized that Toni and I are, right now, in a place of "drifting" in terms of Christian community -- a place that we haven't been since we were first called to serve a local church in 1986. So I ended up writing mostly about us -- perhaps I'll write what I meant to write for others tomorrow or after. 


It's the evening of a very good day. Toni and I were actually together in the same places -- staying here at Naomi and Tim's home and having a gentle adventure on bicycles. The weather was perfect for a day off outdoors. Earlier this evening we enjoyed a supper that Naomi prepared for us. Then Toni cut my hair. Until a few minutes ago I was doing some miscellaneous stuff with our finances, trying to keep track as we go through the many changes of this move.

I've also been reaching out to a few people who I haven't seen for awhile, sending little notes or text messages. I get replies from some and not from others. Mostly that's okay, but sometimes I feel bad that I don't hear back. That's especially true now during these days of transition, before we are settled in a community that we'll be calling home.

For most of the years of my life up until now there's been a ready made community that I could participate in. When I was a kid there was always family and neighborhood, school and church. Then there was college and groups connected with that. I disconnected myself for a time like the so-called "prodigal son" but when I came back I heard the call of God to serve as a pastor and that led to communities at seminary and then at the local churches we served for 29 years.

Our daughter told Toni and I about an article she had found online, one line of which I can particularly relate to. The author is writing to pastors who have experienced what she calls "ministry loss."

She writes to "ministers" who serve local churches--and this is the truth!--
"...The people of that church become your FAMILY, your support system, your counselors, your prayer partners..."
She then explains:
"So when a minister leaves a church for whatever reason, they not only lose their source of income, their security--they also lose their place to attend church, their close friends, their support system, etc. They lose their entire way of life."
There's a lot of truth to that--even for "ministers" like me (yes, there are others) who now sense a call from God to earn their income in other ways, and who have been convicted that they have found at least some of their security in "religious" organizations that aren't as God-led as one would hope. The truth is that we did lose the day to day and week by week contact with people who we have held in our hearts as dear friends. As the author of the article says, it's good to "process the enormity of the loss" and "allow yourself time to grieve."
This is the part of a longer online article -- you can access the original here.
I posted that picture on facebook with the following note:

"As we get ready for another Sunday without being at a church that we're clearly a part of, I'm writing a blog post about this (not done yet) because in the world these days there are many people, not just pastors, who end up drifting without a solid Christian community, a local church to call 'home.' The picture is from an online article about 'ministry loss' that was shared with me by a family member... Please pray for me and Toni as we are grieving. We've gone through losses like this three times in the last 10 years and the grace of God sustains -- but it is hard."

So I ask, tonight, for your personal prayers and for your ongoing friendship. Please reach out to us during these days, especially until we find a local church community to call our own.

1 comment:

  1. This really touched my heart! I pray for you and Toni every day (as well as my Christian and nonChristian friends)...
    It is truly difficult to "find" and nourish friendships along the way when employment choices require one to work e/o weekend..I for one work 2 jobs and weekends are required at both jobs..thankfully I can "set an example" of "what would Jesus do" at both jobs...but sadly I don't get the chance to connect or refuel w other Christian women..except as in a quick hi or how ya doing..
    I pray you and Toni find what you are searching for soon and know that I am grateful to both of you and you are truly blessed to have each other
    to lean on and a Father who knows our every needs..����