The recent news that our church is losing our head pastor and may lose our associate pastor to new jobs/opportunities has many people sad and confused. They are, after all, great pastors and leaders, and have been wonderful to and for our congregation. It's scary to lose them and to wonder what the future holds. No doubt, we as a congregation are in for a long process of finding the right person/people to serve as our leadership into the future.
I too am sad to see them go, but on the other hand I'm relieved that they are leaving on good terms. I honestly can't begrudge a person taking advantage of oppotunity. Any person would be a fool not to - after all, it's just stupid to stay in a rut because it's comfortable if the Lord is opening an opportunity for growth and advancement to you. While I will miss them and the stable support they have provided our congregation, I have to say that I'm happy to see them advancing in their careers and their lives, and I believe it's wise for them to seize these opportunities.
There's another side to this, though, that I don't think people are considering, and that's what I call the "graceful parting" scenario. Honestly, if people are questioning where they are in life and want to pursue a new or different course, I believe it's best for them to seek and take advantage of those opportunities and to leave gracefully and on good terms. These pastors are doing that. There is no controversy. There are no allegations of wrongdoing or shady morals. They aren't being run off. They are simply progressing along the path of life and that path has come to a fork in the road where they have chosen a divergent path. There's no wrong in that and if they want to go a different way, I admire them for acting on what's in their heart and going with the best of intentions for all.
I can speak to this from experience. Two years ago when legislation was in the State House to move the programs I work with (and, as a result, me) to a new department, things got, for lack of a better word, awkward. The department I was out was transferring the programs/me due to an internal transition they were going through in an effort to streamline and to operate in a more efficient and cost effective way. They were under strain and as a result put pressure on the powers that be to make things move - NOW, by the way, because they had to get these changes through before the end of the fiscal year in June. The problem was that, although they started the process well ahead of time for me, things don't move through the legislature in a great hurry. And so we waited, and panic set in around April when they realized that their deadlines weren't other peoples' deadlines, who had cares, concerns, and timelines of their own to worry about. Impatience took over and it got ugly and strained. At one point it got so nasty that I offered to work from home, which made them madder because they thought I was being a smart alec (but I was sincere, as the office space was becoming a problem at that point). I wanted nothing more than to part from the place on cordial terms - after all, I had been there 11 years, and it had been a rollar coaster but I didn't want to walk away with a chip on my shoulder - but they just wouldn't allow it. They couldn't control their impatience and frustration, my work ethic lagged to a point where it was so bad that I'm ashamed to say how little real work I did for the last 3 months in that office, and I finally walked out for the last time on July 1, 2010 with my computer and the attitude that I wasn't going away mad; I was just going away. While I left on good terms with some people and a couple of friends, some of them try so hard to avoid me when they see me in public that I hope they don't sprain anything doing it. That would be a shame.
Too bad, really and a little embarassing to admit, but I took great lessons from this season in my life. One is that it's always best to part on good terms if it's possible, and I'm glad the pastors are doing that. I want them to move on through life with good memories and relationships at Mt. Tabor and I hope the experiences they've had with our congregation have been strong, positive ones that have prepared and built them up for what comes next. I don't want them wondering if they took anything from this experience but building up some job skills for the next step and nothing that fed them emotionally or spiritually, as I wonder about the last place where I worked. I hope we were more than a stepping stone and that we have enriched their soul and their lives in a significant way. But most of all, I don't want them walking away saying "Whew! Thank God THAT'S over!" I want them happy - with what they've had here, what they've accomplished, and what's ahead.
So to Pastor Paul and Pastor Ryan, I say Godspeed. I'm honored that you were a member of our congregation and our families for these years and I'm happy that the Lord has opened new challenges and opportunities to you. I wish you success, happiness, prosperity and joy on the journey. Perhaps our paths will cross again. Life is funny that way. You never know.
Oh by the way, I learned something else about myself two years ago. I have a good work ethic, but if you piss me off I can not only get nasty back, but I can get darn lazy too. It's amazing how you can find better things to do with your time when you just don't care anymore.
That's all for today. Take care and have a good week.
Hi all; I'm back. I guess you noticed that I've changed the format of this blog somewhat. I wasn't being very diligent about keeping updated, so I decided to open things up a bit and offer the characters from my novels and short stories a chance to drop in every now and then to give you their stories. So now, there's no telling who will be doing the updates. Will it be me? My characters? Or even my birds? Yep, even Zack, Chloe and Ollie are interested in jumping into the fray.
So today it's me, and I'm here to report a little problem I'm having. It seems that a rut is developing in my life, and I'm not happy with it. No precious, not at all. Yes, I am frustrated and here’s why: Every bit of the progress that’s been made over the past 2 years has skidded to a halt. Things were good and heading in the right direction for a while but then, it seems people got tired. It was hard. It required changes they didn’t want to make. So they’ve dug in their heels, got out their shovels, and dug a comfortable little bunker to hide in, hoping it will all go away.
Aww, poor babies. Reality is hard. Well, I hope that hole is comfortable. As for me – no thanks, I’m not dead yet. I don’t belong in a hole. Or a box. Or a box in a hole. Whatever, the point is that I’m not staying in this place. Stay if you wish, but don't get mad as you watch my backside climbing out of this rut.
I didn’t come this far to quit.
I didn’t come this far to fail.
I didn’t come this far to give up.
I’d rather try and fail than not try at all. And frankly, I’ve seen enough progress to know that success is possible. I honestly don’t understand why some people are so eager to give up when the goal is in sight. Isn’t it worth it to work through the tough stuff to get to the goal? I mean, would you turn back from a trip to Disney World because you have to go through a town with a paper mill and you don’t want to deal with a bad smell for a few miles? I wouldn’t. But it seems that I know some people who would.
The bottom line is that I see a rut developing, and I don’t like it. There’s potential to see more progress and I want to see it through. Yes, I’m tired. Yes, I’m weary. But I’m not giving up. I know there’s no turning back and that people settling in this rut are deceiving themselves into believing that lie. There is no going back, nor do I have a desire to. The things that have passed have passed for a reason - they no longer have a place in the present. The purpose now is to move forward. I don’t have to stay in this rut, and I won’t. I’m going to gird myself up and keep going.
Halfway isn’t good enough for me and if that's “expecting too much out of life,” well, darn right I do! So you can be safe, but I won’t be sorry. I still see the goal, and I'm pressing on. You can come with me, or you can be left behind. And that’s the way it is.
So that’s where it is. I’m not wasting my time on people that don’t want my help. There’s still too much to do.
That’s all today. I hope you’re journey is well this day. Look for my weekly installment of "From Sidekicks to Superheroes" soon - that is, if I can claim my blog from my characters and birds!
Two years ago, our Sunday School class did an in-depth study of The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. One of the interesting concepts he presented is “The Law of Undulation,” which basically means that life is a series of peaks and valleys, and we are always in some phase of this ebb and flow.
It’s absolutely true. My life over the past eighteen months is a testament to it.
This Thursday will be exactly one year since my last day of work at my old department. I don’t know why this feels like a reason to celebrate. Perhaps because it seems to signal progress to me: that I’m in a better place than I was a year ago, and that I’ve managed to take the pieces of my life and put them together into something new and better than what I had before.
Last year, it seemed too much when my in-laws went from 100 miles away to right next door, and my job transferred me to a new department a few months later. There were times when I felt I had no peace anywhere. But I learned that the Lord never gives you more than you can handle, and with His help, I not only survived but have thrived in these new conditions.
I know my full strength in Him, and that nothing is impossible (sometimes people aren’t willing to allow Him to make all things possible – but let’s save that for another entry!). I know my purpose and myself better, and I’m not afraid of who I am; not even the little inconsistencies that sometimes puzzled me about myself. I am a whole human being and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I know that I not only have a right, but a duty to be my authentic self and that to be anything else is offensive to the Lord and what He created me to be. I know that anything worth having is a lot of work – more than I imagined possible – but the rewards are usually bigger than you imagined.
Most importantly, I learned that if God brings me to it, He’ll bring me through it. And because of that, I’m not afraid anymore. I don’t fear what might be, or what’s around the next corner. I have learned the true meaning of Romans 8:28; that “all things work together for good for those who love Him, those who are called according to His purpose.” I am called by Him for a purpose. I know I may not understand many things, and I’m okay with that because I have seen His power move mountains in my life that I thought could never budge. They did, and I’m a better person because of increased faith because of it.
I’m not so arrogant as to believe that doubt will never come again. I made that mistake once, and boy did I get a double dose of humility. I know now that if you try to do what’s right, it’s really going to piss the devil off and he will attack you with all his might. But the Lord is on our side, so the devil can’t win. It won’t stop him from trying, so the challenge during times of trial and testing is to remember this: that Satan is already defeated and he cannot win in our life if we call on Christ to defend and protect us.
There are two morals to this entry. First, my secret to making it through such a chaotic transition was prayer. I learned the true meaning of “praying without ceasing.” Second, nothing last forever. So take heart. If you’re in a rut, don’t worry because something will eventually move and get you out. If life is chaos, don’t worry because it will eventually settle. If you’re down, don’t worry because you will rise. If you’re up, don’t get arrogant because you will come off that mountaintop eventually (so enjoy it while you can, but stay humble and give thanks always). The nature of the universe is change and the nature of life is undulation. Up and down, always in motion. Even when it looks like nothing’s happening, it is. Sometimes that motion is barely perceptible. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. But it’s always there.
Don’t ever ask “is it over yet?” because it won’t be until you die. So buckle up and enjoy the ride.
That’s all today.