Then there was the time we left the church.
I don’t think anything else could have been so hard and so right, then that. How do you graciously leave a church community? How do you say “good-bye” (in that “I-go-to-church-with-you” way) graciously to people who you care for and people who have cared for you?
Yeah, all that and then some. If you’ve ever done it, you know what I’m saying. That’s been a huge part of our 2015 right there. Six years of questions and conversations and thinking and praying and frustration and iron-sharpening-iron and rebuke and tears all culminating in that final decision: it’s time to leave.
If I told you the truth, I wanted to leave years ago. Almost as soon as I started attending, but not quite that far back, I wanted to leave and I’m so glad I didn’t.
I would have left angry.
I’m glad my husband is cut from the cloth of something greater. I’m glad he said, “No” and I’m glad he stood on that, holding me all the time.
I’m glad because I can look back now and see how Jesus had a work to do in my heart. How he put me where I was for a good reason and how He kept me there as long as He did. Six years. Six years that sometimes felt like a painful eternity.
I know it’s so cliché, but Jesus really does know better.
When we finally did leave, it could not have been more clear and my husband could not have been more decided. I think some people wondered if it was really for real, but I knew it the instant Ryan said, “this is it”, that this was really it.
And of all things? I cried a lot of tears.
I cried, not because I didn’t know it was time and it was the right thing to do. I cried, because I care and I love and I hate change and I hate good-byes and this was all really, really hard.
Hard, because you know that as much as you say, “we’ll stay in touch”, the nature of relationships change.
Hard, because you know there will be misunderstanding and hurt and possibly even judgment.
Hard, because starting again is always hard.
Hard, because new friendships will be made and that will take a lot of time and effort, and the old friendships you could depend on might continue, but they might not too.
And yet — following Jesus always pays. Always.
Jesus is why and how you can face that hard thing in your life. He’s the reason you can stay in your imperfect church and sometimes He’s the reason you can leave. He’s the reason you can risk your heart again, and sometimes He’s the reason you protect your heart. He’s the reason you can say yes, and sometimes He’s the reason you can say no.
Not everyone will understand your path and your journey and your decisions, but if Jesus is the reason? You can hold your head high and take it on the chin, because you know, deep in the core of your soul, that following Jesus pays.
You there? The one reading this?
You’ve got a Savior and a Redeemer and a Refiner and His name is Jesus. If He’s got the whole world in His hands, that means He’s got you too. So step out and step in Him.
And never look back.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:19-25, ESV