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.