One month ago, on the first day of July, 2016, my life blew apart. One moment I was the pastor of a beautiful group of people; people who I had the pleasure of pouring my life into, people who trusted me, people who turned into teams that had become family, family that I thought I would be with until I became too old to serve. One moment I was the chief cheer leader, pointing the way and the next moment, charges had been leveled against my husband and at once, everything shattered.
Our church had endured so much already. We had gone through financial hell since the 2008 recession, then suffered an embezzlement by a trusted accountant, and now this? This was just too much.
The leader of our organization looked at me and said, "This has nothing to do with you, but you are not allowed to go on campus, you cannot talk to anyone. Until an investigation has been completed, you must stay away."
It was a Friday. The end of the business day, the end of my world.
All I could think about were my plans for a patriotic celebration on Sunday. How strange, the things your mind attaches itself to in times of sudden trauma. How silly. How insignificant. Plans and people had to be abandoned. "No contact".
I was left with so many questions. How would the people respond? What would they think of my abandonment? Will the accuser be given a voice, but not the accused? Did my leadership even count for anything? Has it all been a waste? Why? Why do I have to be relegated to collateral damage?
By the time we stepped out of the meeting and into the parking lot, cracks in my facade had appeared, and tears were flowing. All I wanted was to protect our beloved friends from more pain. "We resign!", we said, "Let us simply slip away and spare them the pain."
But it was not to be.
The past 45 days have been a blur. Admittedly, the thoughts come along with the sobs, in fits and spurts. As messy as the process may be, I feel urged to at least try to record my journey.
I learned many years ago a lesson taken from the journey of Lewis and Clark. Every supply they brought with them on their trek across the country was carefully and painstakingly recorded and protected. They took an inordinate amount of ink. INK! Why bother? What was the point?
It comes down to one monumental mantra, "It's not enough to take the journey; you must be willing to mark the trail!"
I know people are coming up behind me. Through good times and bad, am I willing to mark the trail? This is my attempt. It may be ugly, it may be strewn with broken promises, shattered dreams, blood and guts, but I pray God will use my journey to help someone else. After all, I'm not the first to experience the pain of betrayal or abandonment or just plain misunderstanding, and unfortunately, I won't be the last. The truth is, we all go through difficult, unexpected hardships in life.
Matthew 5:45 says it in a rather in-your-face style, “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that." (MSG)
A situation such as mine will test your love, that's for sure. Those dear ones I always thought would be by my side, aren't. Some I hardly even knew have proven themselves to be faithful friends. To "respond with the energies of prayer" is something I am working on.
My lessons so far?
*Be slow to judge - desperate people do desperate things.
*Guard your heart - everything in life flows from that place.
*When chaos abounds - do what you know you heard from God last.
The compass may be shattered, but God remains constant. As I shake the broken glass from the instrument in my hand, I see that He is still faithfully pointing the way. I welcome you to follow my journey.
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a
voice behind you, saying, "This is the way: walk in it." Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)