It’s been quite a while since I have written on this blog but that doesn’t mean life hasn’t gone on. The events of the last few weeks have been very personal and not the finest moments of my life so I will not be writing about those things at this time.
A few weeks ago the pastor of the church I have attended took his life. At 42 years of age, when faced with the prospect of personal failure and the loss of ministry in the public arena, he chose to not face it. As someone who has lived through it and is living through it i have to confess that I identified with his choice way more than I was comfortable admitting at the time.
I have never been on this side of grace before and so I had no idea how people react to others that have failed. I grew up watching my parents who were extremely conservative be gracious and kind to their non-Christian neighbors but extremely judgmental and hard on anyone who left the church or changed in some way. What I’ve discovered is that grace is much easier to sing about, preach about and conduct bible studies about then it is to extend to others from the church body who have failed. Who knew?
Really that’s unfair to say because a vast majority of people in my life have been forgiving and gracious even though they may be disappointed to say the least. I think it’s the fact that the most negativity seems to have come from those tasked with leading others to follow and emulate Jesus Christ or those whom I thought were the closest to me as friends. Sometimes it has been with hateful words but mostly it has been with the age old practice of silence, ignoring and shunning.
In my darkest times which most often occur when I am alone (something I have feared and dealt with all my life and still fear) I hear the voices of the silent. I have been able to ignore the vocal because of the hatefulness which is nothing like Jesus. But the silent have left me to make up what they are feeling or thinking in my own mind. This has been devastating at times. I am a feeler. I have lived my life and never wanted to hurt anybody.
I want to go on living. Just when I think that maybe the words of hate are true God intervenes with someone who speaks for Him since He doesn’t talk out loud. This has happened over and over. For this I am deeply grateful. As I pondered the choice of my pastor the night of his death it was especially poignant. I live in the top floor of the funeral home. I was alone upstairs and his remains were a couple floors down. It came home in more than one way. I cried and wept for my friend. I had texted him when the story broke knowing full well what he was going to have to deal with from the church and community. I begged him to not go through this alone but he never responded back. He did eventually respond and it was devastating. He responded by ending his life.
Two people ministered to me during this time that knew nothing about this event. One was a friend and mentor who knows my story and in his maturity has forgiven me and wants me to move forward. He sent a simple note that I opened at my office. It was a quote that simply said, “The worth of a man is greater than the worst thing he has ever done.” This I am trying to believe. No, wait, I do believe this.
And then my dentist, who lives, breathes and sleeps Jesus, upon hearing that I wasn’t pastoring any more and the reason why, spoke “prophetically” into my life. He softly spoke to me as he replaced a filling in my mouth and reminded me that man looks on the outside but God judges your heart. I have lived under the scrutiny of gossip and innuendo. There is truth mixed with untruth and speculation. I have chosen to remain silent but suffered as the words and judgements of others are spoken or unspoken. I take great comfort in knowing that God is looking at my heart.
He sees and understands the brokenness and the pain of the past. He knows what brought me to today and He knows where I am today. He knows how to love me and has sent people into my life to love me in ways that are beyond my comprehension. I want to go on living. Like everyone on this planet I long to be loved. Hate hurts. Scorn hurts. But love heals and love will keep me living and loving others around me.