How do you grieve and mourn the losses that don’t seem very tangible? I think I wrestled with this question following the resignation of my former pastor. I knew there was a loss, I knew it was significant but I didn’t know what was the reasonable response to the loss.
Like many in my church family upon hearing the news of the resignation and why he left, my initial response was shock, hurt, pain and questions. Tears flowed quickly during the service where members of our church’s elders team and leadership team explained the situation and their heartfelt pain for our church family.
But they also communicated God’s hand was still upon Discovery Church and that he would help us heal as we walked this journey together. The journey for me included feelings about what had happened and questions that stung:
What do you do when those you respect and love stumble into moral failure?
How does a church move forward in finding a new shepherd?
How do I process my feelings about God in the midst of this?
As I look back on the spring of 2013 and the months that followed I see the hardship, fears and grief that many in the Discovery family walked through. I also see the faith, healing and grace that blossomed as we allowed ourselves to grieve and mourn that which was lost.
When you allow yourself to grieve you create space to connect to what has hurt you, damaged you, even changed you. When you allow yourself to mourn you give your soul permission to express your grief, you sob through it, you ache because of it, you allow the emotions in you to come out of you. You mourn, you acknowledge, and you vulnerably embrace the pain and loss. When this occurs authentic healing can take place.
The two significant emotions I experienced in the loss of my former shepherd were shock and feeling deceived. I felt shock because this was something I never imagined I could experience in the community I was part of. Not that we were immune. But the news completely blindsided me and the shock was impactful. I also felt deceived. My mind wrestled with the two lives my former shepherd lived – the pastor part of him and the hidden part of him. My heart felt anger and sadness at his actions. These feelings needed to come so that I could grieve them, feel them and acknowledge how I hurt.
Through this loss I learned that God is faithful to us even when we as people are unable to be. Discovery Church would always be his church and his immense love for his people would never change.
There’s a quote by author Sally Lloyd-Jones that reminds me of the great love God has for the people in this world: “…all the stars and the mountains and oceans and galaxies and everything were nothing compared to how much God loved his children. He would move heaven and earth to be near them. Always. Whatever happened, whatever it cost him, he would always love them…with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.”
Through this loss I’ve learned that the church is not perfect but in her weaknesses the propensity for God’s strength to be made perfect is priceless. There is no perfection in church as there is no perfection in the world around us. Human brokenness thrives on this planet. None of us are immune to it.
What I see in the church is a gathering of people with their own fractured stories, drawn together because of love for an incredible God and a desire to grow in spiritual community that will change them for the better.
I’m in authentic community right now with a small group of women at Discovery. We’re in our late 20s, 30s and beyond. We love God and we love growing together. We talk about life, we get real, we laugh, and we love to have taco salad fiestas, get froyo together, and hold backwards party socials. We talk about deep things rooted in our hearts, hardships that are stretching us and we trust the Lord together for better days to come.
These women are helping me heal. They are helping me become more human in my losses and my triumphs. They’ve grieved and mourned with me and now they’re showing me how to live again in the life and joy we share in authentic community.
Do you have community in your life?
Are you known and understood by others who care about you as a person?
If you do how is your community changing your life? If you don’t how can you pursue community in your life?