I need to say this, though I don’t know how. I thought I was OK but it turns out that the cost was greater than I knew. So I see the church and, where once I knew passion which translated into tireless action, now as I dredge the depths of my heart I find nothing but a void.
I need to say it. I thought six months would be enough. But it’s nearly five and the void which is soul-weariness has only yawned more deeply.
I need to say this too, in case you misunderstand me. I do not hate the church. A pastor said this some months back, having heard our story. You still love the church, he said in some surprise. Yes. We still love the church. We never even missed a week back at the end of January when one church story came to an end. And we would do it all again. Tomorrow, if he asked us. Though we pray he leaves it a while.
I have not given up on the church. Nor will I. We are the church: abandoning it is a nonsense. I love the ones I had to leave and I love the ones I’m finding in this new season. I am also not ambivalent. I still rail at what we do, how we call it church when it bears no resemblance to anything I find in the New Testament. I still mutter darkly about whether we really think Jesus died for the structures of leadership we espouse. Ask my husband.
And I tell of this void because I am not afraid of it. Nearly five months after leaving a decade-long pastorate, I am not restored to strength. And it is well with my soul. It is well with my soul though when I read of friends launching new ministries, planting new churches, my soul shudders. Though even the idea of joining a Sunday service team makes me sigh with an odd combination of weariness and boredom. Ennui perhaps. Though it turns out that I have nothing left, a state of affairs as much to do with another of my contexts as it is with the story of church, yet it is well with my soul. It really is. So well.
For he walks with me and he is leading me I don’t know where. Places, I think, which I could not have held before. And though my heart has no strength to wrestle for transformation of church, to rethink what the heck we’re doing and to contend for that, my dark mutterings show me that I still care. That the fire still burns for his bride’s beauty. I know now, too, with even greater confidence that the one who calls from glory to glory always saves the best for last.
And somewhere within, buried deeper yet than the yawning void, eager expectation is stirring.