Monday, January 11, 2016

on moving, goodbyes, and community

I went through those double doors for the last time, and briefly paused as I heard the glass door rattle behind me as they latched. From what seemed out of nowhere, my heart filled with sadness and tears threatened to brim over as I realized the chapter I was closing in my life.

For the last two and half years, this place was my Monday night home. I would go there for over two hours and wrestle with God’s word. And I got to do it with women who were wrestling just like me. This had become a sweet community, and especially in the last year, the community I desperately  needed to get through some extremely tough times. And this community that was a large part of why I chose to stay in Arizona when faced with that choice last summer.

But now this is all coming to a close.

I don’t know why the Lord wanted me in Tucson for the last 6 months. I don’t know why, when faced with the choice of Tucson or Kansas, that I felt like God wanted me to stay. But now I can tell you, that whatever the reason, healing was done in this time. It was done through the wise and challenging counsel of a pastor leading blessed and tiny church on Overton Rd. It was done through phone conversations (and one face to face meeting) with a Memphis counselor who understood painful ministry transitions. And understood Tucson. It was done through mountain views and long commutes to work and friends who became my family when they took me in. 

It was also done through this community of Monday night women who knew me, loved me, and for some reason thought I was awesome.

Before I left the church tonight, one of the BSF leaders held me tight, in a full-on hug, and prayed for my transition and thanked the Lord she got to know me. How humbling. I don’t deserve that.

Whatever God’s specific plan was for these last six months, all I know is the result was me finally able to move on and say, “Arizona, I’m done with you. You’ve both blessed and hurt me these last five and half years. And while I’m thankful for so many things you gave me, I believe we’re finished. I’m not only ready but excited to move on.”

If you’ve been reading my blog for a few years, you may recall how, when I drove away from St. Louis to come here, I just didn’t feel done with that town yet. And maybe I’m not. But I’m done here. The Lord knew that I wasn’t ready to go last summer, and perhaps these six months were simply his grace to me. I do know that I learned so much about myself. I saw my failures and my pain in a totally different light. I was able to see I cannot control where amends are refused. I learned what more of my deal breakers are. I learned how grief alters you. I learned what real friendship looks like, and how in ministry, those friends don’t always stay (and this truth really hurts). I learned how easy it is to be a bad friend when you are self-absorbed. I learned that sometimes all it takes is one mistake and the refusal to forgive to ruin a beautiful thing (this also really hurts).

…and so much more. In six months. It was awful. But still I learned, and that is never a waste.

I am thankful for the last few years of BSF and the women I grew to love and somehow grew to love me back. I am thankful for this community. Thank you, Jesus, for knowing what I needed and providing. I am undeserving.