We have officially entered the hardest part of our transition out of our current ministry. The “lasts.” Over the next 10 days we will be conducting our last meetings, presenting at our last speaking engagements on particular topics, leading our last two Sundays as the pastors of the congregation, saying our “see ya laters” to folks, finishing packing and cleaning, ensuring all the proper contacts have the correct information for who/what/when/where/why going forward, and making sure everything is in place for a smooth transition for those new leaders that are stepping into our place.
Like ships in the night…that’s always been a hard part of our ministry and how we move around. We are going to be packing up our u-haul next Friday, moving into our new house on Saturday, popping back to lead for one last Sunday, hand over our keys to those that will hold them for the new leaders, and then they move in on Monday. Very much an unceremonious end to a chapter of life that has consumed us completely for many years. Such is life. We at least had the blessing last week to meet face-to-face with the folks stepping into our place, an opportunity that is not afforded often, and we were so pleased to have that time to make this transition (hopefully) smoother for them.
While these days are consumed with all of the “lasts,” we’re filled with excitement for the next steps in life. To be able to spend more time with our families, especially our aging parents…to care for ourselves in some ways that we haven’t been able to…to be able to live out some of my dreams that I’ve felt so strongly called to do…to work apart from my husband so each of us can thrive without being the two parts that make the whole vocationally…to move back to the community and people we dearly love. Excited, absolutely. And with all change, a bit of anxiety too. But how does that quote go? Your goals should excite you a lot and scare you a little–yeah, we’re there. It’s all good though. God has been with us in the process and led the way. Our full confidence is in Him.
There’s a lot of firsts too. My husband and I were married after we were in ministry full time, so there’s a lot that one or both of us are experiencing for the first time. We got to choose our home together. We purchased my first car…it still sounds bizarre for me to say that at 38 years old, but I’ve never had a car that was “mine”–all my friends had cars in high school, public transportation was readily available when I was in college and I remained living in that city for some years after, and then I entered seminary and since that point I’ve always driven fleet vehicles so I simply never had a need for my own. We have had to choose the first bits of furniture for our home that we’ll build upon as time goes on. We get to “reintroduce” ourselves to the world as individuals with specific passions, goals, gifts, talents, and even our now separate vocations. And there’s the hard parts too…there’s a big adjustment in having to plan, budget, and execute adulthood when so much has been provided for us over the years so our sole focus was our work. But we’re up to the challenge, because we know Who is leading the way.
We’ve been so blessed by the love and support we’ve received, and as always the prayers from others that we covet. This was never a choice we imagined making, but, life happens, and God is always bigger than our plans. He has provided us with the people that are upholding us, very gracious responses internally and externally to our choices, and the peace in our hearts to know that “it is well.” As with anything, there’s been blowback–people that have made assumptions, talk behind our back, or simply just refuse to talk to us to learn the truth of our situation…but we can’t control those situations, people, or their actions. We have definitely had a painful lesson in who your friends are and who’s around just for drama, but it’s helped us to lean in hard on the love–grasping on to the love that’s being shown to us in many ways and to lean on Him as He guides us in all the next right steps.
It is good. God is good. As our hearts break a bit going through the “lasts,” those holes are filled with a hope for the future. What is right and true and part of God’s will and purpose for us. For the moment, we keep plugging along to finish well, and soon, we exhale. A new chapter in our book of life. It is good.
More later. (and yeah, updated website coming soon…the tech inept–me–is close to nailing this!)