I shared in a post to my Pieces of the Mosaic series about a time our lives were diverted because others failed to make the right call. It was painful, but it wasn’t really personal. They had failed themselves as much as they had failed us, anyway.
It was hardly our worst experience.
See, my husband was accepted as pastor at a very small church out in the country, the kind that was at risk of dying out if something didn’t change fairly soon. There were a few middle aged-adults that attended, and some brought grandkids, but there were no youth or young adults.
The biggest problem, though, was that the pastor turn over had been so frequent for so long that the church had gotten used to looking at him as a preacher while the head deacon was basically the pastor. From everything heard, he was a very good one at that, but he had passed recently, and the new head deacon expected the respect and deference to the position to continue.
Except my husband had no intention of using the this church as a stepping stone. We weren’t going to move on to a bigger congregation as soon as one became available. We were in it for the long haul. He was going to do the work necessary to grow the church, to serve the community. And he was succeeding.
He gave the deacon the respect his age and position deserved, but he did not defer.
And phone calls were made. Things were organized. A vote was called quickly, and my husband lost his position by two votes with a couple of his supporters on vacation and one sick while several others in the congregation didn’t even know what was happening.
That was a betrayal. They didn’t fail to make the right choice, they sought out to undermine, and they succeeded.
I was supposed to go to Italy to teach English for the summer, receive invaluable career experience. We had to use that money to live on while we resituated and my husband found new work. It still hurts.
The organization our church was a part of did nothing to offer to assistance, counseling, or support in any way. In fact, because there wasn’t another affiliate church within a reasonable distance for us to attend, my husband lost his position on a camp board. No exceptions could be made.
This was one of the most difficult situations we’ve faced.
It also served as the final straw with the affiliation. We’d had various issues over the years, concerns, questions, but how they responded to our experience was finally enough to show us that our ministry was best served in a different context.
When I say it still hurts, I want you to understand that I still choke up when Naples is mentioned in a movie or TV show. This was bad. This was personal. There was nothing about this that was part of God’s plan. We should have served in this church for years. We should still be there, working in the church, the local, state, and national affiliation. We should have been able to grow our ministry from that congregation to reach out and begin addressing the concerns and questions we had with the larger church body, to develop an internal ministry of healing and education.
But we aren’t.
But we’re okay.
Because God is the master of the mosaic.
If we had stayed there, I wouldn’t have gotten to teach at the school in Nashville for a year and a half. If we had stayed there, I wouldn’t have gotten to spend the last four years of my mother-in-law’s life visiting with her at least twice a week, if not every day. If we had stayed there, my oldest wouldn’t be in the scout troop she’s a part of. We wouldn’t be serving in the church we’re currently at. I wouldn’t be writing this blog, not like this, not using tags like exvangelical and descontruction.
That was the ministry path we should have been on, that was written for us, that was taken from us. This is the ministry path that we should be on, that is also written for us. We were never meant to be diverted, but we were. We weren’t lost, though. A new path was written. A new should. A new meaning.