Today is the first day after the "send off" that my husband and I were given from a church home that we have been a part of for the past twenty-six years. Gary and I had only been married four years when we started going to this place of worship in our late twenties. Now in our mid-fifties, we will be moving to another church home. I woke up with the weight of that decision and announcement on my mind. I sensed the scary freedom of standing outside one place and Not. Knowing.
Not knowing where my foot would step next. Not knowing where my soul would land.
The “send-off” from our previous church home was a kind and beautiful expression of love and gratitude. Hugs and heartfelt words were exchanged between us and the other golden oldies who had weathered the journey of the past two-and-a-half decades. Afterwards we shared lunch with the four now-adult children of the pastor whose vision we had chosen to support back in 1989. These four young adults—Ryan, Amber, Jordan, and Katie—sat at the table with us with their own children and spouses with them…
Ryan, the oldest sibling at our lunch table, was now the Pastor of the church who sent us off with love and best wishes. He and his wife Jessica were, literally, engaged in our very own backyard, while my husband and I, and his younger sister, Amber, peaked through a window, watching him propose to the woman who now sat beside him as the Pastor’s wife.
My husband and I have no birth children, but we have known and shared in the lives of this Pastor and his wife since they were nine and seven-years-old. Ryan and Jess were in the youth groups and Bible studies we led in our home and at church. They went with us to ski in Colorado, to explore on Cumberland Island, to worship in revival meetings from Niagara Falls to Florida. We were in their wedding party and have shared in the birth and upraising of their three children. Gary and I and these two church leaders have grown up together—just like parents and children do—and we are still watching each other grow.
It’s funny though… In our recent situation the “kids” didn’t leave “home” but the “parents” did. My husband and I left our “home” yesterday following the inner promptings of our souls, knowing it was time for us to move on…
Away from a life centered around these two precious “kids” and the home we have shared for so long. Away from these mature, significant, Spirit-filled people who are now, in fact, the leaders of the very home we are leaving.
Only the Lord can explain the pull these precious two have had on my own heart… I have reacted to the pull; I have responded to the pull; I have challenged the pull; I have debated and dissected the pull. I have surrendered to the pull… time and time again.
None of us are moving away. We will still get together for birthdays and bar-b-ques and anniversary celebrations, but my soul tells me that there can be no denying of the subtle landslide that has taken place. My husband believes it will enhance our friendship with these two. That it will in some way free all of us to be more ourselves at this stage in our lives. I agree.
But still, this morning, I sensed the scariness of it all. I believe it is the same beautiful scariness that thousands of generations of souls before me have sensed when a holy separation occurs.
So as I sat with this morning’s devotion from Jesus Calling, my Friend said to me from its words: “My nature is to bless. Your nature is to receive with thanksgiving. This is a true fit, designed before the foundation of the world. Glorify Me by receiving My blessings gratefully.”
I tremble at the thought of this new blessing. I quake at the significance of it as my husband and I move on to our next sacred home.
Who will we meet there? Who will become our “kids,” our “parents”? What pull will these souls have on us? I do not know.
But I do know the One who goes with us and the One who stays behind with Ryan and Jess.
He is loving, and He is kind, and His nature is to bless us. Therefore, I choose to receive these new blessings of a new home and new ever-expanding relationships with joy and a grateful heart, even as I let go of the former blessing with trembling hands.
Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. Jeremiah 17:7 (NIV)