It is with heavy hearts that we wrap up our time at our current church this week.
At the beginning of this month, Adam was notified that he was being let go from his position as the Student Ministry Pastor and would be finished at the end of the month. This was unexpected for us. There is nothing scandalous or inappropriate on our parts. Please, there is no need to wonder or assume, but I know that's where minds and conversations can go at times.In short, this church has been through a lot of transition over the last several years. Most notably, a new lead pastor that was hired shortly after Adam. With him being a strong visionary, he has ideas of where he wants to take this church. It has become more evident recently that there are some differences in philosophy and vision for student ministry. While we were willing to try to attempt to change some of our efforts, leadership decided it would be best to transition us out instead.And just like that, we are done.To be completely honest and transparent - we are hurt. This was never just a paycheck or job to us. We were fully invested in this church and its people. This was not just Adam's position.....serving Christ here was the heartbeat of our family. We gave in ways that were not up front and showy. We served in ways that few will ever know about. We gave in ways that were beyond Adam's "position."To not take this personal is beyond what we are capable of at this time.It hurts to be forced to step out of the lives of these students. They have been through a handful of youth pastors and it was clear to us from the start that they were not trusting of yet another new person. It was finally feeling like we were making some strides and seeing walls come down and spiritual growth taking place. We fully intended to watch these 12th graders graduate from high school.....and had even pictured being there to watch this year's 6th graders graduate from high school. We wanted to offer them the stability and a consistent presence that we could see they needed. But like much of life, we cannot plan these things and know what the next moment holds.And it hurts having to step away from a church family and people we have come to find friendship with. When we went through the difficulty of Adam's accident 4 years ago, we were held up as our previous church family carried us and walked through that uncertain and difficult time with us. They were such a reflection of God's love and provision to us. And although this unexpected event is very different.....we have quite the opposite feel of presence and support. Many have reached out to us with "I'm sorry's" and sympathy, but there really isn't much more that they can offer to make any of this easier. And many have been silent.....and I get that as well. Its hard to know what to say. And some have gone above and been present as sounding boards, walking partners, coffee drinkers, card writers, and even sending us away with a hotel stay and generous amount of spending money while we were on a forced vacation the first Sunday after the decision had been made to let us go. But reality is, we will not be worshipping and serving alongside them anymore. And we certainly felt that as we wrapped up our last Sunday this morning and not even a mention of this being our last Sunday was made from the front. It has been decided that we are no longer a part of this local church.Although much of the handling of all of this has felt impersonal, unloving, and hands-off, the leadership has been gracious in allowing us to continue living in this church-owned house through the school year and to offer severance pay through that time as well. We are increcidbly grateful for this extension of care and the ability to let our boys finish out the school year.As for what is next for us......we will trust God one day at a time and aim to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on Him.
In the practical, we have no clue what is next. Adam is pursuing job options and considerations for both the period while we are still living here.....and then the period beyond that. Whether or not those two time periods and locations are connected, we're not sure. Do we stay in this general area? Do we head somewhere else? What sort of position does he have the skillsets and physical ability to do? And what would he find some purpose and fulfillment in doing? Even though I loved being in ministry alongside my husband for the past 14 years....right now, it sounds amazing for him to have a regular-hour job that the boys and I are in no way invested in and emotinoally involved with. We aren't closed to the possibilities, but we lean heavily towards not pursuing another church vocation position right now. And it sounds pretty awesome to live in such a way that we can't rely on the "title" of Adam's job to convey what we're about.....but having to be all the more intentional about loving and living in such a way that its clear by our actions and words.
We covet your prayers. Pray for God's guidance and direction. Pray for healing and for our hearts. The attacks of rejection, being cast out, hurt, failure, loneliness, unfairness, and criticalness are already so strong at times. Pray for us as we guide our boys through this time. Pray for us as we find another church to attend. Pray for us to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on Him. Pray for us as discern where to go and what to do next. I've always preferred if God would speak to me in large, very obvious neon signs.....but I'm slowly learning that its more about staying close to Him and His Word and being faithful in the small things and He will guide and reveal in His timing and in His ways (which I'm well aware are always better than mine). We honestly have not even worried much about what is next or our finances. We have seen and experienced God's provision before. At this point, its just been addressing the hurt and shock and having a desire to finish our time here well.
And I'm pretty blown away by the man I married. No, really. I married a man that walks what he talks. He has expressed and communicated so beautifully with our students about all of this - he's never pointed fingers or been critical. He's stayed positive in front of them. He's put steps and people in place to carry out things once his time is up. From the beginning of our time here and until our departure, he has been who he said he was. So thankful that my husband has integrity, steadiness, humility, and Godly character.
Our desire is NOT to be divisive over this. We are simply wanting to share with those in our lives of where we are at right now. We want good things for this church. There are many, many wonderful people there. We want them to reach and disciple many as they seek to share the Good News of Jesus. We will not tolerate negative public comments. We may be hurting and disagree with how some of this happened and the timing of it, but ultimately..........this isn't about us. It never has been and never should be. Our aim is to be faithful to our Savior, trusting Him and pointing others to His grace and love - regardless of our circumstances. We know full well that God is working and can use everything in our lives to bring us closer to Him.