A Season Of Change.

It’s the season for change. And while that can bring with it immense beauty, it also tends to carry a little bit of pain – or at the very least, discomfort. I am feeling the burden of that pain right now.

I believe that God places certain people in our lives for certain reasons and unfortunately (or maybe in some cases, fortunately haha) those people are only present for a small portion of our story.

Yesterday I received the news from my parents that our Senior Pastor is leaving to move to Missouri in December. I was crushed. I felt such a wide array of emotions – fear, anxiousness, anger, confusion, and the list goes on and on.

I want my Senior Pastor to go where he feels God is calling Him. He has made such a massive impact in our community that I cant even imagine the impact he could have in St. Louis. And it seems irrational, I know, that I would have such an intense response to this news…seeing as I live in Ann Arbor now and spend a grand total of about 4-6 weeks at home throughout the entire year combined, never more than 2 or 3 at once.

My response…selfish? Yes. Silly? No.

My church in VA was my home. When turmoil raged within the 4 walls where I was supposed to feel the safest, I had a place to run – I had a support system stronger and greater than any other…I had my church. I had people who would pray with and for me, listen to me, accept me where I was at – every broken piece and flaw of character, and lift me up. I had a support system who worshiped alongside me while I both played violin and sang; a church family who literally saw me as family.

Don’t get me wrong – none of that will be any different. I will still have my church, my home, my safe place. It just won’t be quite the same as it once was. God is nudging me in a different direction – he is nudging me towards independence in the sense that it is time for me to let go – it is time for me to branch out and find my own church family and my own safe place here in Ann Arbor.

It’s just so difficult and painful to realize that one of the most vital people in my recovery and more importantly, in the development of my relationship with Christ won’t be there when I go home. I know it’s selfish of me…it’s selfish to expect others to allow me to walk away and live my life, go through school, form new relationships, develop my independence, and yet still expect them to stay the same and to be in the same place and the same way of life. I acknowledge that I am being helplessly selfish. But that’s where I’m at right now.

As I sit here at my kitchen table and take a look around…my book case is littered with books that this mentor either provided me with or suggested that I read. I realize the immense healing that was provided for me through relationship and mentorship from him.

And so, I want to take a moment to just simply say thank you to my senior pastor. Thank you for the hours spent listening to me, lifting me up in prayer, cheering me on from the sidelines, and offering up support. Thank you for your words of wisdom that have helped me grow and most importantly, to heal. Thank you for your transparency that inspired me to be more real and authentic with the people in my own life. Thank you for sermons that teach, inspire, and prompt thoughtful change. Thank you for books, for hugs, for emails and phone calls from afar. Thank you for pushing me to explore my own relationship with Christ and thank you for this opportunity to reflect on all the blessings in my life, especially the ones that have been prompted by you.

You’re changing lives and making a difference in the world and Lynchburg is so lucky that we got to have you for the time that we did. You have made a huge impact and I know that you’ll continue to do so in wherever life takes you.

Change is hard. Change can hurt. But God blesses us with who we need, exactly when we need them. My senior pastor at home was there for me in a time when my life was so broken that I didn’t know how to move forward or where to turn. It’s time to relinquish my tie to my church back home, or at least to loosen the grip a little bit and to allow myself to be fully present in the church I attend here – to dive head first into my community, to offer myself up to God to use me however He wants and needs to use me HERE and now.

I’m so grateful for the way God used my church in Lynchburg to save me during a time when I couldn’t save myself. It will always, always hold a special place in my heart and I will always love visiting. It’s okay to cry (and I’ve done quite a bit of that), it’s okay to feel confused, scared, anxious, etc. But it’s also okay to move on – and something I’m learning is that, that doesn’t just apply to ME. Other people can move on too and I want to support, encourage, and uplift them in those tough, confusing, exciting transitions. Here’s to my favorite season – one of changing leaves, changing weather, and changing lives…here’s to transitions, new homes, new places, and new callings from our Savior, Jesus Christ.

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“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”
C. JoyBell C.

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