Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Seasons change

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 3

I’m reading a book called “Leaving Church”. It’s a personal memoir about Barbara Brown Taylor’s experience of giving up the priesthood.

Though I didn’t realize the serendipity at the time, I bought the book with a gift certificate I’d gotten when I ended my tenure as an elder at our church. (No – in case any GNFers are getting worried – I’m not “leaving church”, I’m just stepping away from leadership.)

For everything there is a season. It’s time for me to step away and enter other seasons. Not only am I not an elder anymore (the highly skilled Krista is picking up the mantle), I’ve also given up doing announcements and welcomes. Basically, I’m stepping out of any leadership or public persona role and slipping into an “anonymous churchgoer” role. And that’s the way I want it for now.

It feels like a time for other things. I need a season for focusing on my writing a little more. Maybe a season for taking some art courses – pottery, painting, photography – I’m not sure what yet. Mostly, I’m hoping it will be a season for creativity. And maybe a little rest.

I’m not sure what other changes the coming year will bring. When I started this job, I’d told myself I would give it at least 5 years. After that, Marcel would be finished university and I might be able to consider other options. This is my fifth year. Marcel doesn’t have a full-time job yet, but he makes a pretty decent living as a substitute teacher.

I still love my job, and honestly? I could see myself quite happily spending another 5 years here if it came to that. I’m in no rush to leave. But I’m also ready to open myself up to new possibilities. I’ve done a lot of really amazing things in the 4+ years I’ve been here, and I’m pretty confident I’ve left a positive mark on the organization, so I could walk away if it felt right to do so.

At this point, though, I’m in no rush to move into anything new. I’m going to enjoy the summer, sign up for a class or two in the fall, and maybe find a little more time and space for some writing. And in the meantime, I’m going to say “no” to almost anything anyone asks me to do for church.


Krista said...

This is as it should be. The best servants of God are those who take the call to rest as seriously as the call to minister. May God richly bless your time of change and creativity. May you find peace in the word 'no' when said to others and joy in the word 'yes' when said to yourself. May you experience new depths of God's love as you draw the circle of your self-giving close for a time.

Anvilcloud said...

Yes, they do change, and we have to change with them.

Anonymous said...

as long as you'll still be my friend...


Liz said...

These crossroads. I'm at one myself. Abby will be gone in a couple years and my focus in life will shift back to myself. I just have to figure out what to do when that happens.

You deserve some time to do what you want.

Judy said...

Expect to be questioned.

Rest FIRM, my friend.

sarah said...

So right. There does come a time when you need time to 'minister' to yourself and where you are (and where you are going). . . or minister in other ways that are not necessarily structured.

Janet said...

I hope you DO have more time to write. You have a wonderful way with words.

I'm approaching the same transitional stage myself. I'll follow YOURS eagerly.

BTW, someday I DO hope we get to meet live & in person!

Take care of yourself in the meantime...


Cecily said...

Love that book! Read it a couple of years ago, sparking fear in a few people that I would immediately leave church. As it is, I still attend and am still active in several roles and my husband left instead. Ah well. But I took away from the book a greater understanding of the need to not just be busy, busy doing, doing. I expect I will leave church - at least church as we know it - in the future, but for now it seems right to stay and contribute at the same time as learning to sit with God quietly.

May your leaving of ministry roles be fruitful for you and those you no doubt minister to informally!

Pamela said...

"resting" is certainly biblical!!