When I first started talking to my Pastor about shifting my role at our church from being the middle school pastor to being a youth pastor at large and stepping out to try something new with our denomination I had a lot of mixed feelings.
Even after having made the decision I was triggered easily with a range of emotions. The only other time I have felt this way was a few days after having my first child. The very high highs, the breathtaking lows, the rush of every day being different forever settling in.
My prayer was simple. God heard it often.
“This is so hard.”
My husband Coy, Pastor Brett, Pastor Dave, my very best friends, and even our new partner in ministry, Olivia gave me so much grace in this. I think they knew I needed to physically grieve. They would say things like “I know”, “I can’t imagine”, “Let yourself feel/ cry/ recover.”
I had to apologize to Olivia the day she accepted the offer to work at Highland Park. We were at Disneyworld, the happiest place on earth. She told me the good news and I told her I was thrilled. The next ride we got on was “It’s A Small World” where I sat in a row with my husband, two little girls, and my friend Carlee. Olivia and her husband sat directly behind me. I smiled through the entire ride, tears gushing down my face, barely able to breath. Coy leaned over–eye to eye- “you’re great Brooklyn, you made a good choice.” I was taking a leap and realizing that doing so doesn’t mean taking a break from hard. It means walking deeper into it.
My girls eyes twinkled through the ride, oblivious to change, safe in the moment. And Carlee leans over, I could see tears in her eyes too–she knew. There’s nothing like being with friends who know how to …be with.
I had shifted the gears and felt caught between them. No one was asking me to change anything. Things could have been great without any changes at all. But I knew that it was time, it was right, it was God’s leading. I didn’t think that changing would ever feel this hard.
After the ride, I apologized to Olivia. But I had to be honest. I told her I wasn’t sure if I liked the idea of her anymore–in the moment-in the realization that I had gotten out of the boat and now I couldn’t go back.
Her response was a ministry to me.
“I don’t know how you are doing this. I am so honored that you would ask me to be a part of this. I understand.”
She could have thought I was crazy. But she saw me facing a big thing and faced it with me. I don’t think I’ll forget that moment. I don’t think she knows how much it meant to me. We’re going to be great friends.
Big decisions feel that way. Like a ride that’s happy sad with everyone you love in the same boat, but you know that some of you are going to get off and some of you are going to get on and some of you are going to help while others hurt and then we’ll switch–taking turns with each others burdens. It sounds a lot like church to me.
Here are a few things that helped me through, when I didn’t know what to do. I’m saying a little prayer for anyone out there who is deciding about something big or even little. No one knows pain, grief, loss that’s felt in transitions (purposeful or not) except for the person feeling it. So, I’m praying for you and cheering you on too. I hope you’ve got someone to “be with” you too.
Things I’ve learned when making big decisions.
1. Tell some safe–someone who will simply be with you with an open mind.
2. Give yourself room to make a decision outside of books, blogs, tweets, advice. Go for long walks. Read the Bible. Pray.
3. Once you’ve made a decision. Don’t explain the feelings away. Feel them.
4. Move forward by taking care of things or getting people to help you take care of things necessary to prepare for change. When I was in Texas and needing to move on from a ministry, I needed to look for a ministry position while I still had one. As difficult as that felt, my “be with” friends and family helped me to take the steps one at a time. I can still hear them “get your ducks in a row Brookie, you’ve got this”.
5. Head into the change with confidence. God isn’t going to leave you. You can be brave.
I read a poem during my first year of ministry that I’ve carried around forever–it paints a picture of what this type of changes feels like.
When you say
to the Kingdom
things onces felt
One by one
(hardly noticeable at first)
You see them
All that you
held on to,
whilst you are busy
with the new.
You do not notice,
and look around
Things have changed.
you want to cry
but, oh, you
feel so naked
Also, here’s my sermon given to our Saturday night community about what we’re called to do and some of my story about how I’m working that out. “Do Something” (the last 15 minutes is about this recent change.)
What big decision is weighing heavy on you?
How are you working it out?