The 'In Between' Time: Transitions

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I just left my ministry (via Art.17) at the church where I was called. The pastorate is something I have loved and sometimes hated over the last 31 years. Now I am in transition; I am in the time of "in-between." 

It feels like I now stand in the hallway of a hospital. There are many rooms each with their own pain, hurts, unknowns, and healing which needs to take place. Desiring to get to the exit (out of this in-between) will involve going past the number of rooms and around the corner.

I have three options. First, just stay in the hall, try to keep “out of the way” and hope that most people avoid me. Second, I can make a bolt towards the end of the hall, stop briefly, and then bolt towards the exit under the visible sign to the outside. Third, I could take the time and go into each room. I could stay long enough to listen to the care providers talking with myself, who is also in the bed in each room, and then engage with myself to find healing or insight so that I could then move back into the hallway and further on.

The first option is avoidance by way of a passive-aggressive fight response. The second is avoidance by way of the flight response. Finally, the third is the one I should take because it is necessary, even though scary, feels like a waste of time, and / or will possibly become more damaging to myself, family, and my faith. Still, I know this is best.

For the next number of blogs that I write, I invite you with me on my journey of the “in-between.” My hope is that through this process and your sharing of insights, reflections, questions, and empathy, a deepening and widening of my life will be realized. A meaningful journey of realizing that on the Potter’s wheel, God could use you in helping reshape and cover the cracks in this jar of clay. I do not want to just get “through” this time; rather, I desire to see a development and restoration to progress for framing further lifelong faith formation and learning whereby I can progress from hurting, to healed, towards renewed.

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Hello Joel, 

I am not a pastor, nor have I had any ministry training, other than to sit under my pastor's mentoring the last four years. So I can't speak into your life as a pastor, but I can share with you what Christ has been up to in my life these past few months as I have experienced grief through loss - loss of my mentor, loss of our pastor, loss of a sense of what I was doing in ministry at our church. 

I have been in the first place - in the hallway pretending to be unseen, keeping to myself, but this is not who I am, so I didn't remain there long. I have been in the second place you mentioned - the flight response. Just wanting to run away from it all and get as far away as I could. I was really tempted to do this, but in my heart I knew that it was not the solution God was calling me to. So I had come to the conclusion that I had to do what you listed as your third option, seek help from Christ mostly, but from others too - friends, and others in ministry. And that is what I have been doing. 

Because of COVID 19 I have had less work to do and more time to spend in prayer, both speaking with Christ and listening to his Spirit speaking with me. This has been a very rich experience for me. And he has been giving me peace, the peace that passes understanding. I have been leaning into participating in more spiritual disciplines, and through these I have seen Christ shaping hope in me. Three weeks ago he gave me this verse, This is the day that the LORD has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. And I made a decision that I had to live into that JOY (because I hadn't been). It was hard at first, bumps along the way, but I am able to live into the JOY today. I have been asking Jesus questions about the ministry work and he has been giving me answers. And with the answers he has been renewing hope in me. 

I am reading a book by Ortberg - If you want to walk on water, you've got to get out of the boat. I feel that my decision to live into JOY every day was me getting out of the boat. And Christ has been holding me above the water and the waves. 

A friend of mine shared her story with me, the story of the cracked jar of clay (that you mentioned). Christ gave her a picture of herself as that cracked jar of clay and out of the cracks a brilliant light was shining that made that cracked jar of clay resplendent. And Christ told her that he is the one shining through her cracks as she gives her life daily and moment by moment to the potter to allow him to shape her according the image of Christ in her. And though she is dull and cracked, that is okay because Christ within her shines bright. 

In my hurt, in my confusion and not knowing what lies ahead, and what direction God has in store for me, I have learned to be still, to wait on the LORD. Patience is not something I am great at, but I am learning that God's timing is best and he knows best, and I am learning to trust him completely. And what a freeing experience that is! 

His Word is my bread every day - full of nourishment and goodness, life and vibrancy. I breathe in His Spirit and allow Christ to fill me with hope. 

I pray that you too will find healing for your soul. 

Shalom, Aviva