Where Do I Go From Here?
These last two months have really been not-so-great. My car was totaled, I was forced out of ministry at a church I dearly loved, people I trusted and loved betrayed and abandoned me, my hopes for the future have been dashed, and to top it all off, I’m having to make plans to move back in with my parents at the end of the month.
Now, I don’t bring this up to earn your pity. I’m talking about this because finding yourself standing amidst the ruins of your life is a bit of a seminal moment, I think. I believe that people who are called to ministry have a responsibility to be appropriately transparent to the people around them. That fact that my calling and heart lay in ministry has nothing to do with the quality of my life or the struggles I face. I do not become superwoman because the words “Pastor” or “Minister” precede my name. And so it is somewhat warily that I admit that I am struggling mightily right now; struggling to forgive, struggling to trust, and hardest of all, struggling to hope.
I have the privilege of being able to look back on my life and pinpoint the moments where God’s hand has been at work. Most of those are at moments much like this. He has an excellent track record of turning wreckage into beauty. That’s the promise, isn’t it? That “all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) He promises that He’ll figure it out, make something good come out of it. Why then, with all the evidence in His favor, do I have such a hard time seeing Him at work?
I’ve prayed a lot the last month. I’ve cried even more. I’ve wondered if there is some deeply-rooted sin in my life of which God is trying to rid me. I’ve looked at my life the way it was and now at what’s left of it, and I’m slowly coming to this conclusion: I didn’t do anything wrong. I wasn’t at fault in my car accident. I got caught in the middle of the mess at the church. I didn’t make the choice to turn my back on anyone, but because of the actions of others, I and other innocents (like my family) will suffer the consequences.
I wish I could offer some nice, neat moral of my story. I cannot. I wish I had some incredible word from Lord. I don’t. But here’s what I do have and can offer to you. I am discovering that being “Good” doesn’t get you anywhere. If you try to be “Good” because you want to reap the benefits, don’t. The sun and rain fall on the just and the unjust alike. Being “Good” for the sake of reaping reward will burn you out and leave you empty and bitter. If that’s your sole reason for being “Good,” that’s not going to be enough. Being “Good” has to be an act of gratitude, because at the end of the day, it’s not what you know or how well you know it. It’s who you know that makes the difference. I cannot imaging going through this, having lost the vast majority of my physical support system and social circle, without knowing God. He may not be answering my prayers the way I’d like, and He may not be fixing this as quickly as I’d like, but He’s at least there. He doesn’t betray me, He doesn’t stand me up, He doesn’t get tired of me. He is constantly there for me, even in the midst of all this.
That being said, I am struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And if there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I’m afraid it’s just a freight train barreling toward me. I very much am waiting for the other shoe to drop, and praying that God stays His hand. I know in my mind that there are dozens of possibilities out there for me now. It’s getting my heart to believe that that’s the problem. Being the pragmatist that I am, I am putting one foot in front of the other, applying for jobs, sending out resumes. But when it’s just me, alone in my quiet house, the emotions aren’t so easily contained. I want justice. I want the people who have done this to me to feel what I am feeling, to experience this raw, gaping hole in my heart. But that’s not right; God alone is responsible for justice. This battle within me of the sinful nature versus the spiritual nature is fierce and it leaves me exhausted and raw. I want to believe, Lord, help my unbelief.
Like I said, I don’t want your pity. That’s not what this is about. In recovery, there’s a saying, “The sickness is in the secrets.” If I leave this inside of me, it will just fester. That’s not good or helpful for anybody, least of all me. I’m working on forgiving and letting go, but these things take time. So in the meantime, this is my prayer for you: That you would have hope. That you would be blessed beyond all you could ask or imagine. And that the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and mids through Christ Jesus.