I’ve never enjoyed saying goodbye, and sometimes even the best changes are hard to accept. I knew for more than several months that it was time to start looking for a new church home, but I didn’t want to. I invested so much in my last church, and they invested a lot in me.
When I was hurting and broken my pastor and his wife loved me. I made friends who showed me what a godly marriage looked like, and I discovered a lot about my talent, the purpose behind it and the drive that I felt to go deeper…in my relationship with God, in serving my friends, neighbors and community and in seeking to live out the fruit of the Spirit in my life.
If you know me, or if you follow my journey at all, you probably know that when I met Jesus it changed my entire life. It changed the way I perceived myself, and the way I view the world and other people. I learned that when people were mean and hurtful it was because they didn’t have peace. They didn’t have joy, and we’ve all heard that misery loves company. It’s true.
I learned that the only way to experience freedom is to give up control…to surrender to God…to make decisions based on what He wants, which is always spelled out in His Word.
I learned that the more I give myself to others the more fulfilled I am.
I learned that Jesus doesn’t love some skinnier, more perfect version of me. He loves me. Period. He loves you, and He created us in spite of our imperfections. He knew how much we’d struggle with (inset your struggle) and created us anyway and loves us so much that He was willing to die for us, and He did.
I learned that God made me on purpose for His purpose.
I learned that I’m happiest and most content when I start the day reading my Bible. I don’t always spend hours at a time reading it, but I do spend time asking God to reveal something to me. I want to know Him more, and His character is spelled out in the Bible. I learned that there is actually a manual on how to live your life. (If you want to know more start by reading Matthew 5, 6 and 7. Jesus seriously spells out what He wants from us and for us.)
There’s so much more that I could say about the grace and goodness of God, and there’s still so much more to learn, to share and to live out.
A couple of months ago, in the midst of all of the change that’s already happening in our lives, Michael and I started visiting other churches. We discussed whether or not we thought we should stay in New Orleans or leave, and at least for now, we’re staying.
He’s still studying for his CPA exams, which typically take about 18 months to complete. I have a good thing going at work too, and I decided to return to school to finish what I started. We’re content here, but we both knew that we needed to move in a new direction.
It’s hard because I love the people I met through my old church. I’m still friends with some of them, but many of them have come and gone as well. We love our former pastors and their family too, and we’ll continue to love them and pray for them no matter where we are on the earth. They will have a special spot in heaven because they’ve sacrificed so much for God’s glory. They’re awesome.
It was just time to step into the next chapter that God has prepared for us. That was much scarier for me than for Michael. I think that’s because I invested so much more time and love there than he did because I was there a lot longer, and it’s also because Michael doesn’t take things as personally as I do.
I tend to wear my feelings on my sleeve even though I no longer let them control me and my actions like they used to. I don’t always share them immediately, but I am really open and honest with my core group of friends. I’m thankful for my little group of people who accept me, understand me and aren’t afraid to tell me when I’m wrong. Michael and I both agree that we’ve never had such awesome friends before.
Anyway, we knew that it was time to take the next step, and it was scary to step out of our comfort zone. We knew that there would be questions that we
couldn’t wouldn’t answer, but we also knew that refusing to move forward would no longer work.
After months of praying and seeking we have a new church home. We’re getting to know new people, resting and gearing up for the opportunities that are being placed in front of us. It’s an exciting time, but my heart has been heavy too.
I know that I can’t grow and thrive if I’m not willing to walk into the future that God has for me, and I know that, in life, we can’t move forward if we don’t stop looking back. I can only hope and pray that I’m able to continue fulfilling God’s will for my life and developing into who He would have me be.
There are a lot of great churches in the New Orleans area, and after several years I’m ready to go deeper and to grow more in our new church home.
I’ll always have fond memories of my first church (well, the first church I ever chose,) and I’ll pray for them as I move forward into this new chapter. Yesterday was the first day that I felt total joy walking into our new church home, and now I’m looking ahead.
Maybe the changes can slow down for a bit now…maybe…