I chose this picture because I’m holding my breath.

I’m holding my breath between two chapters of this life, although “chapter” is probably not the right word to describe what’s felt like a lifetime, a foundation, a family.

After 21 years of life at Hope Church, after 9 years on staff, after almost 4 years as a pastor here, today I said goodbye to what I’ve known and hello to something new. For the past few months, I’ve been working on transitioning out of my role as an assistant pastor at Hope and into…well, we’ll see.

The texts and emails are full of encouraging words. “So excited for you! What’s next?!?” And my heart sinks a little. I am so much of a WHAT’S-NEXT girl, believe me. WHAT’S NEXT is my love language. WHAT’S NEXT makes me feel alive, and significant, a little too much. But when I live so much in the WHAT’S NEXT, I’m prone to lose sight of the what-was, and the what-is, and the what-needs-to-be that seems to make up so much of our life on this earth. Honestly, God has led me to a goodbye without a big WHAT’S NEXT hello.

Of course…life is full, without a great big WHAT’S NEXT. I have a family that needs to me to drive carpools and grocery shop and edit papers and give out hugs. I have been a discipleship pastor these past years, but I actually have an ENTIRE SMALL GROUP living in my house, and they are all related to me, and they need prayer and counsel alongside of all that cooking and coordinating. I have friends and projects and all the other things that make life good, some of which have been neglected through this intense season of ministry.

And so I will continue to write (new project coming out in October), I will teach and preach when invited, and maybe a big WHAT’S NEXT is right around the corner, but maybe it isn’t. This hasn’t necessarily been a smooth journey for me. A friend said to me, “a beautiful journey with some pain along the way.” More truthful: “a painful journey with some beauty along the way.” Pain comes in change. It comes in loss, in the unknown. Pain comes from insecurities and all the things that come when you love, when you care, when you live. Pain comes from being human, and learning to hold it gently and let it speak is an important part of all change, whether it’s a good one, or an unexpected one, or a bad one, or all of that wrapped into one.

More than anything, leaving the role I’ve held in the community I’ve loved has tested my faith. I told a wise friend a few weeks ago, “I am used to God opening doors and me working hard to get through them. I have not known closed doors and me having no choice but to rest in them.”

There’s a country church that I have driven by for the past several years to my big-important-mega-church job. The marquee outside usually says something inconsequential about a deacon celebration or Happy Mother’s Day or whatever. But today the marquee says, “While You Wait For God To Open Doors, Praise Him in the Hallway.”

So here’s my amen. I’ll be praising him in the hallway.

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  1. Alan Steele

    June 16th, 2019 at 9:05 PM

    Amen, amen. Praising God is the correct response to whatever circumstance life plunges us into.

  2. Maria

    June 16th, 2019 at 9:20 PM

    Praying for you, sister. Transitions are difficult, but I pray that you see the beauty in the hallway. May you feel His pleasure in your new missionfield.

  3. Jennie Whilden

    June 16th, 2019 at 9:28 PM

    It has been a joy to sit under your teaching. I know you will enjoy this next season of your life.

  4. Jenny

    June 17th, 2019 at 12:00 AM

    Nicole, I don’t have any good words except trust. Have faith. The next right door will open when the time is right. You were (and are) a gift in ways I can’t even adequately articulate to me and my family. I am holding space for you in this next season and also in the in between. I love you. 💙

  5. Nancy Lee

    June 17th, 2019 at 11:36 AM

    Thank you for sharing and being honest and open. We sometimes are asked to step into the unknown or the yet to be revealed and that is so hard. I love your writing & preaching and I am grateful but also understand a season of rest of focus on different things. Take time to absorb and listen. We appreciate you.

  6. Sharon Chase

    June 17th, 2019 at 8:16 PM

    God offers a season of change to continue the image-making process. Praise be to God – the creator and finisher of our/your faith.
    May it be well with your soul!

    Peace in all things,

  7. Tahiti wright

    July 22nd, 2019 at 6:10 PM

    Thank you ive been asking God for my what’s next . How my next season should look like. I have 2 girls aged 9 and 6 and I now have my confirmation through this May God continue to lead you !