Been away for a bit, but hopefully back to stay this time. :) Sometimes when you're going through tough times, you just need some space. Not everybody understands that, but it is what it is. Now, with some pastors, very mature believers, and good friends around me, I'm ready to "venture back outside".
I've definitely learned alot over these last 6+ months. Here are some things I've come to understand in my (for lack of a better term) wilderness wanderings:
* SIN STINKS! Yezzir! No question... you play with the bull; you get the horn. Sin has consequences... even forgiven sin.
* PEOPLE CAN BE NOSEY! Now, I'm not talking about friends or those who are really concerned... I'm talking about the people who never called, never checked up on me or my family, never supported our ministry, etc... but now, they want to be "involved" and they "care enough to call." No, they just want information to gossip. :)
* MOSAIC CHURCH IS A PLACE OF GRACE! For this, I'm grateful. The place where I poured my heart into for over 2 years really got it. I've received nothing but grace from the members, even though I'm no longer there. I love you guys with all my heart.
* The Church has no clue of how to handle fallen pastors. Of course, this is generally speaking. I'm sure there are some places out there (I know of a few only) that do a relatively good job with this, but most places suck at it... I'm just being honest. Everyone is so quick to throw stones and castigate the fallen... no matter how much they say they "love" you, if you don't respond their way, they're gonna get you. Period. Well, the truth is, they want to "get" you period. That's what they're after.
* I'm thankful for some godly, wise pastors in my life. Regarless of the "stone throwers", there have been a handful of men who have been walking with me throughout the duration of this situation, and even a while before. Please understand: you cannot give everyone an access pass to walk with you... no matter what their role in your life was before. Here are a few of the criteria I use to tell people "no thanks": 1) if they feel they have a sense of entitlement, and will "force themselves" upon me... NOPE! 2) If judgment is on their lips at all... NOPE! (understand that there is a difference between "challenging" and "being judgmental") 3) If you haven't been clearly in my corner... NOPE! See, when you've fallen and need restoration, it will ONLY come from those who have always had your back! If you have to clear away stuff to uncover people's motives... if it's not crystal clear that they're for you... they're not for you. Period.
* When you fall, some who are your friends won't stay friends. This has probably been the most hurtful for me, because people stop being your friend and often don't even know what happened... they only go by what they've heard. But the truth is, even sin has a context and a story. True friends never turn their back... and even if they think they have grounds to do so, they shouldn't without understanding what happened. Having said that, I also know there are some who simply don't know what to say... so they simply say nothing. I don't understand that, honestly... but I hold no grudges, either way. The amazing thing is that God brings new people into your life during dark times who might've never been there before... and now they are there for the duration. Sweet! :)
* My heart belongs to Jesus. I don't know why, but alot of people think that because you've fallen, you've also turned your back on God. :) That's crazy! Though some, I'm sure, do... I have not. I still love Him with all my heart, and am seeking to obey Him fully. That doesn't mean I have everything figured out, nor are all the puzzle pieces in place (are they ever?), but I'm facing Him - He's in control... not me... not you... not anybody, but Him.
* Life happens! This is the biggest lesson I've learned! As a pastor, it's easy to give people their "biblical medicine" and expect perfect endings. And when those endings don't come, we tell people they need more medicine. The truth is, life happens: people mess up, they blow it... and things get messy. However, there simply is no manual (and, NO, God never intended even the Bible for this purpose) to turn to a particular page that lays out in black and white for each and every situation. Our quest for everything to be cut and dry, black and white, is killing folk! People lash out in anger... children go wayward... marriages blow up and sometimes end... because we're in a sin-ridden world! People need to be LOVED in the midst of their pain... not made to feel like they're 2nd-class believers because they mess up. That's not excusing the sin... that's being there for them in the midst of it. Call sin by what it is... but then help people out of it.
* People are hurting. I know this now more than ever. I'm one of "them" now... a "church skeptic", wondering if church leaders have answers for those of us in pain. When I think of some of the messages I preached, I feel sick to my stomach. I thought I had "answers", but was only stirring up more questions... and leaving the main one usually unanswered: "What do I do with my pain???" I have experienced this now first-hand...
* I may be somewhat of a skeptic now, but I still believe in Christ's Church! Though I haven't been handled (by some) graciously, I still believe that the Church through Jesus Christ... when it's at it's best... is the hope of the world! It can still be the best place on earth to meet the true and living God... but it starts with people: loving them, accepting them, dealing with them patiently in the midst of their pain... and helping them through it.
Well, that was a start... I'll write more later this week, and bring you guys up to speed with where I am these days. Much love...
Monday, December 7