Resigned: Part 2 - The Other Side
One of the things I took away from that meeting was the truth that I still have a lot to learn about being a Christian, but what else is a true Christian if not someone that must consistently align and realign with the Word of God? Our time together ended with asking forgiveness, praying together, and the hope of some kind of relationship in the future.
I wanted to start with that because I think it's important to know peace can be found, even through a situation like the one I came through. There was much that was clarified, and much that we had to agree to disagree on. But we still parted as brothers, bound by the blood of Christ. We're going to be together for eternity, after all. Why not start now down the journey of reconciliation?
I think it would be helpful to give a bit of the other side of the story regarding my resignation. You can go back and read my thoughts in my previous post if you'd like. As I mentioned there, I was in a bit of a fog for a few months as the shock of everything settled down. Timelines as I remembered them were a bit off. For example, as an unemployed person time moved at a snails pace. The questions I had for the leadership about my involvement were answered, but the time it took felt like months rather than the few weeks it actually took. There was really only about a month of the complexity of trying to figure out how I could still be involved. And what a complicated month it was.
From mid-December through mid-January one of the most complicated situations I have ever witnessed took shape. My pastor said the same thing. Dealing with one family in crisis is one thing. But the elders were dealing with three at the same time; three marriages all on the brink of falling apart with everyone wanting to stay at the church. Marriage problems are always with us, and I'd imagine there is rarely a season without at least one being tended to by the elders. But three at once? The hours those men spent wrestling with it...
Something I've posted before is the fact that everyone is brought through the pain they can handle to grow them into the person God wants them to be (read about that here). I certainly went through my valley, but I would be telling only part of the story if I ignored the pain of these men who had their own struggles and pain that had to be put aside to try and heal the church.
Did it go well? Sometimes, and sometimes not. I think they would admit they didn't get it all right. It was an impossible situation to begin with. On the one hand you had families that were trying to heal; a staff member that was trying to heal. On the other hand you had a few parties that were making that difficult, including my ex who was manic and still engaging in secret sin while on the surface was looking repentant. What is a church to do? Do you protect your members and ask the unrepentant party to stay away? That's what Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 5:11. What about that person's husband (that's me in case you've gotten lost in the pronouns) who wants to still worship with his family? I was welcome to stay, but Moriah wasn't. I interpreted that as an unspoken request for me to leave as well. But looking back on it I can appreciate the difficulty. Those two contradictory situations were one reason it was good for me to move on. My priority at the time was trying to save my marriage. The elders priority was saving the church. Both could not happen together because of all the other people and hearts involved. I couldn't both stay at the church and the church be shepherded well at the same time. Yes, it hurt that I had to leave. I wish it could've been different. I wish I was the one that got to stay. But it wouldn't have worked.
That's just one example of the impossible situation. I still wish things would've turned out better. I wish my marriage would've been saved. I wish I didn't have to resign. But even there, it was good that I did. Because of the complexity of the situation I don't think I would've been able to recover had I stayed on staff. It would have been nice to be given a bit more time to deal with it, but looking back I know the result would've been the same. Whether in January or March or May, I would've moved on. That wasn't the church God had in mind to help me recover. And that's ok. I don't think it means people can't recover from tough situations in my old church. But that was the case for me because of all the nuance and the people involved. Again, it sucked and I wish it could've been different. But now I accept what happened. I'm good with it. I think I'm ready to say that and believe it now.
I think it was time for me to move on to something else and God used this situation to take me somewhere I would've never willingly gone. I just wasn't ready to leave. Sometimes you are placed in a church for a season, you do what God called you to do, and then you move on, and that's ok. For some reasons I know, and others I'll never know until heaven, it was time for me to move on. It doesn't speak less of the church or less of me. Not everyone is a good fit where they are, or better said, people change and grow and eventually may get to a point where you both feel it's time to part ways. Another way to look at it is this. God has His plans and positions people where they need to go for as long as He has work for them to do there. Once their work is done He moves them onto the next place, like how Philip was moved around in Acts 8. I know that's cryptically vague, but I hope it's enough to know that I'm very content with where God has led me. It was a difficult road to get here, but I know I'm where I'm supposed to be.
The transition getting here was rough. It was painful. There were several things handled in ways that I know could've been done better. I think many, perhaps all, of the elders would agree with me. Some of those things were simple polity matters where I'm not quite on the same page as the PCA (my old denomination). Some of those things were due to the sheer volume of trauma the church was facing. But as my pastor told me last night, those are reasons, not excuses, for dropping the ball in some areas. Sometimes it felt like that dropped ball fell right on my foot and left me bruised, but looking back I'm left with this impression from my old church. My pastor pursued me. I thought that door was closed, but I should've at least tried to open it. He not only opened it but loved me enough to speak some truth to me. We didn't agree on everything, but we parted as friends.
That lesson is one I need to keep learning. It reminds me of a verse I've often thought of throughout this situation. 1 Peter 5:6- "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you..." Ironic how often I read that to remind myself to stay humble, and yet the previous verse I often miss. Verse 5 says, "You who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" I would be ashamed of myself if, when confronted with verses like this, I didn't take a long look in the mirror and examine my own heart and try to realign with scripture. I need to be reminded of my prideful heart and my lack of humility.
I know elements of my situation weren't handled well, but I was never told I shouldn't feel what I've been feeling or it was all for the best or any other non-comforting phrases people try to use. I still stand by my (now a bit edited) previous post and am still recovering from some wounds. But I can still respect my brothers... yes, they are my brothers. I can still tell the other side of the story, or at least shed some light on the difficult road they faced, and are still facing in many ways, as they deal with the fallout of this messy sin-soaked circumstance.
My road was difficult, yes, but so was theirs. In the end we are all men, doing the best we can to subject ourselves to the Bible, trusting that God's grace is sufficient in the midst of our mistakes and weakness.