December 7, 2014

Moving On and Letting Go

Today is one of those funny, weird, interesting, and uncertain kind of day. It is the kind of day when you are not quite sure how to make sense of the situation or event or if you can even understand the context of what you are experiencing. Today is one of "those" kinds of days, and I am struggling a bit to put everything into proper perspective. Let me explain...

My morning started out well and good. I slept well, better than I had the previous few nights, and I woke up semi-refreshed (with a dull ache in my neck, but that was it). I spent my morning drinking coffee, reading online, and watching Fox News. I got myself up and dressed around 9:30 and then headed over to Scottsdale Bible Church for the 10:45 Venue Service.

I have been attending SBC for the past four-five weeks now. I made the decision to leave my other church, Paradise Church, at the end of October. In truth, I returned to my OLD church, SBC, after a brief (7-year) hiatus. I thought about it today, and I have been a member of SBC for nearly 20 years. Yes, for seven years, from 2007-2014, I attended Paradise Church in order to support my son (in the youth group and later worship/praise band) and my parents (who have attended since 2005). My former husband and I continued to attend together, even after we separated in order to be there for our son as he performed each Sunday.

To say that I have been happy at Paradise during the 7 years I attended would be untrue. I liked the Pastor (one of many in recent years), but I missed the deep theological teaching and the strong worship experience of SBC. I told myself that I should not place so much emphasis on expository teaching, and that there was "good" teaching to be had attending a much smaller church. Once my husband and I separated, however, I thought about returning to SBC, just to get a fresh perspective, to be able to worship alone and to focus solely on the Lord. I ended up not going back because I felt it might be awkward returning after so many years away. I was afraid of what people might say, the questions they might ask me, and the strange looks I would receive when I showed up single. My former husband's Mom was on staff there and was well known. I worked on staff there as well as volunteering and serving for many years. It was just difficult to go back there during the years of our separation, so I remained at Paradise, committing to the ministry and the people who fellow-shipped there.

In late September, my son made the announcement that he had an opportunity to join the Praise band at SBC in the Venue. He wanted to go and play there on Sundays and so he exited out of one ministry and moved to another. Since that time, the Lord has greatly blessed him with opportunities to perform, to serve, and to work in a number of technical and musical capacities. It has been a really good fit and a good experience. Moreover, he has begun to be involved at Arizona Christian University, and he has met a number of Godly young men and women who he is becoming close to and spending time with during the week/weekends. In all, it was a good move for him.

I've blogged about this before, but Paradise Church has been in crisis for the past couple years. This summer the board announced that they were bringing in a transitional pastor to oversee the church for the next 12-18 months -- in order to save the church from closing its doors. I was starting to feel a pull away from the church prior to this time, and I didn't feel a connection with the church or felt the Lord calling me to stay there through the transition period. I prayed about it, asked the Lord for permission to leave Paradise and return to SBC. Finally at the end of October, I made the switch too, and I started to go back to my old church, SBC, for Sunday services.

You know that old saying, "you can never go home?" Well, it is true. SBC is not the same place it was when I left there back in 2007. It is different, very different. Many of the people are the same, but there are many new families, new faces, new leaders and pastors. The campus has changed, expanded, and has a different feel and vibe. The church has remained true to its mission and vision, and it is financially well-set and growing. It is just a different kind of church now. I was worried about what people might say or think, but in truth, no one knows me at all. I slip in and out without anyone taking notice. In some ways, that is a good thing. In other ways, it hurts. Still, it saves me those awkward questions so I guess for now it is OK.

Zoom back to this morning -- I was in the Venue waiting for the service to start. I am used to sitting by myself in church. My ex-husband started back to SBC in September, once he knew our son was no longer playing at Paradise. We have a cordial relationship so I didn't think too much about us being in the same church again. Plus SBC has over 6000 members, so really the chance we would be there in the same service at the same time and be questioned by people who remember us, was highly unlikely. As I sat there and waited, I saw my ex-husband and his girlfriend walk in the door. They ended up sitting right in front of me. They didn't see me or notice me or maybe they were ignoring me, I don't know. Anyway, I was for a moment in this very strange and surreal place. I was sitting in church, in the church where we attended for 13 years, but I was alone, all alone. He was there with his girlfriend, and I was in my row by myself.

I struggled to stay focused on the Lord, and after a little while, I lost myself in the music, the experience and the message. The peace of the Lord rested on me, and I made my time be about the Lord and not about my feelings. When the service concluded, the lady sitting two seats from me, walked up to me and gave me a hug. She said something to me, but I didn't hear her words. I nodded my head and said "Thank you." She wished me a good week. I guess she noticed how I reacted during worship, how I was tearful (the message was good), and how I was reflective during communion. I don't know. Maybe the Holy Spirit just said, "go give that lady a hug!"

After church, I said hello to my son and I asked if he was planning on going out to lunch with his dad. I left but he texted me before I got to my car. We ended up going to breakfast, and we had a nice visit. I learned at breakfast that my ex had intimated that he may be thinking of remarrying. Apparently, something was discussed over the holidays and the topic broached (somewhat).

As I left to drive home, all I could think about was the way I was feeling inside.

It is not as if I want my ex-husband back nor do I wish him misery and a difficult life. I have forgiven him of his choices, the decisions he made, and his desire to end the marriage after 25 years. I let it go, and I moved on. Or so I thought.

The quote a posted at the top of this blog article is by Soren Kierkegaard. It is one of my favorite quotes and often it gets bandied about whenever the subject of "moving on" comes up. In truth, Kierkegaard is saying that we must always be moving forward in life, but it is through reflection that we come to understand our path and our role, and how both work together to create the outcomes we experience. Yes, we reflect backward, but we live in forward motion.

As I thought about my life, where I am today, and what is happening to me, all I can say is that it is still difficult to let go of past hurt. No matter how many times you have said that you have let something go, often there is a residual bit of hurt that lingers. There is just a little bit left over, a smidgen that remains, and in that tiny moment of the prick of the pin, the pain returns and it hurts. Yes, it hurts.

I do wish my ex-husband well. I do hope he is happy with this person, and that they find companionship, health, and happiness through their remaining days on this earth. I pray they both come to know the Lord (my ex says he is a believer, the girlfriend is an unknown). I pray that through their attendance at SBC, their eyes may be opened to meet the blessed Savior, to experience the depth and mercy of His grace and forgiveness of all their sins. I pray that they will be sober-minded and that they will accept the reality of their choices, their life decisions, and that in doing so, they may experience the blessedness of forgiveness and eternal security.

For now, I am processing my feelings, thinking about what this means for me. I am single (officially). I am thinking of getting married again some day, and I am trusting the Lord for His timing on that decision. The Lord has much work to do in my life -- there is so much left to do -- before I can even consider marriage again. Until such a time, I am wholly devoted to Him, to His cause, and to His Kingdom work. I will go where He sends me, live where He tells me to live, and will do the work He has prepared me to do. I will surrender all, submit my heart, my hurt, and my healing to the merciful hand of the Lord. I will wait upon Him, and I will commit my life, my days, and my ways to Him with fullness and assurance that He will deliver on the promises He has made to me.

Amen, so be it. Thy will be done. Selah!

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