I was looking through some digital photos of the last year searching for good ones to use in our Christmas letter. Funny faces, warm embraces, some of flowers up close and others with emotional strings attached. I went from laughing to crying as I clicked through the memories we made this last year. As I looked through them, some I quickly clicked through, others I landed on for some time. It was the ones of our farewell lunch that I seemed to land on, maybe hoping to reconnect with those very people I had to say goodbye to. How could I possibly leave our church of 10 years and move on? I just didn’t know…
I didn’t know that I would think of them so much…the people that cared about me, the events I helped plan and run, the teens we laughed with at the youth Christmas party. I didn’t know that random items would create a spontaneous memory of a special time together or that a song on the radio would tug at my heart strings as I remembered working on it with some teens for special music. I had no idea how silly Facebook pictures could spring a well of tears.
I just didn’t know I would think of them so much…
In the months after leaving that ministry, my heart took a journey of learning what it looked like to love a ministry I left behind. It took a while, but I had to realize it was ok to mourn…mourn the friends I was leaving, mourn the identity I was giving up. I just didn’t understand how deep the sadness would be. Many have told me that’s what moving will do to a girl. It tends to make us second guess who we are, what our purpose is, what we are made for. It seemed everything I did caused me to remember how things were. All the new people I was meeting, reminded me of the sweet friendships I left. I mentally teeter-tottered between feeling guilty that I couldn’t move on and deep mourning for having to.
And then I read it! In the Message Bible, I Corinthians 1:4 says,
“Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God…”
Paul was writing here to the church, one that he was not currently in, but previously had grown to love as he shared the message of Christ to. He was writing to address some issues they were having, but notice, before he gets into it, he starts out by saying how very much he thinks of them!
I read over this part several times….Paul, who had more ministry to do in the future, still missed them….still thought of them often. That was me in a nutshell.
I think it’s pretty normal, now, to think of those special times and memories often. I can now understand how Paul can say so many times that he “thanks God for them.” They must have been bittersweet words to write.
I’m getting there…I finally can say that while I have more ministry to do, in another ministry, in a different way, that I too thank God for them! Has it been easy? No. Has it been fun? No. Have I shed a few tears? YES! But I am learning through my tears. Each one that drops means that I am closer to knowing Christ better.
Have you had to say good bye to a ministry you loved? Where has God brought you?