There comes a time for many who are committed to answering the call of ministry when loneliness starts to take over.
For some of us it might be that we are overworked. Others, simply unappreciated. Still others, there is a unique pain that comes with leaving a church and setting out on a new adventure.
Planting a church (or starting a new ministry that requires leaving your church) can be exciting and simultaneously heartbreaking. Words cannot begin to describe the sadness of not only walking away from those you have loved and served with, but also watching them slowly forget (or pretend to forget) you ever existed.
The texts and the phone calls slow. The invites to play dates rest solely upon your shoulders to make and when you extend them they tend to remain unanswered. Some people “miss you” and “want to get coffee soon,” but the date is never put on the calendar.
Only important things make it to the calendar and you have become less important it seems. Out of sight, out of mind.
Though I write this with a heavy heart, I take comfort in knowing Jesus has felt the same pain of abandonment. I recall when Jesus said to the Twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?”
My frustration has another level still as I try to answer my children’s questions. Specifically my youngest (Monica Jr. who just turned five on Sunday), when she looks up at me confused as to why her “best friends” will not be at her birthday party.
How do you explain to a preschooler that people just forget about you? How do you lead an innocent child through processing something that you don’t even understand? Is this what her memory of the church will be? Abandonment?
How do I explain that her “best friend” was (seemingly) only so because it was convenient for her friend’s parents? More importantly, how do I make sure this doesn’t happen again?
I can’t. And it kills me to admit this.
Ministry is wrought with painful experiences and there is no way to shelter ourselves or our families. We can only love them well and show them that, like Christ, we will never abandon them.
On the heels of this sad revelation, I also want to encourage you to reach out to people that are active in ministry, missions, church planting, etc. in ways that require they separate from the structure of the traditional church.
Believe it or not, we need love and affirmation too. We sometimes feel forgotten and we miss our friends. We try not to assume the worst, but (at least for me) it’s getting hard to convince myself people still care.
Throw us a life line. Doesn’t have to be much. Even an emoji in a text would be cool. You have no idea the weight we carry and how a simple gesture could lighten it.
*(I could imagine the mixed responses this article might receive, but I have learned it is best to just express myself vulnerably and let God concern Himself with the rest. So please don’t be so bold as to assume I am writing about anyone in particular. There are many who seem to have forgotten our family and many more families like mine who feel (or are) forgotten. If you feel the weight of this. Just do something about it.)