Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Birthing Pains

I'm currently in my last year of seminary, preparing to be a United Methodist minister. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was finishing up an internship with one of the most wonderful churches I've ever encountered. The people were loving, the worship was awesome, and the ministry was genuine. I had plans to go on staff there at the conclusion of my internship. Life was good.

But, only a few weeks before my internship was over, I found out that, with the current economy, the church couldn't afford me. They tried everything they could think of to make it work, but the numbers just wouldn't add up. Suddenly, I found myself orphaned, not knowing where I would go next, but being very sure that that season in my life was over.

I remember the pastor preaching a sermon shortly thereafter that was one of those times when you're sure the preacher is speaking directly to you. One line of the sermon was, "don't get so comfortable in one place that you start to believe you can't find God anywhere else." Whew. That did it. At that moment I knew - deep in my being - that I was done there. Like a little eagle being thrown from the nest and forced to fly, my time that this church was over. It was time for something new.

Its so hard when life moves on before you're ready.

Fortunately, the leadership in my denomination found me another church. Its a beautiful, small, country church, where I will be the solo pastor. I've never been a solo pastor, and they've never had a female pastor. Neither one of us really knows what we're getting into. I start in just a week and a half, and I'm flooded with a myriad of emotions. I'm excited and overwhelmed and scared and unsure and grateful all at the same time. I have no idea what to expect, and at times, that leaves me almost paralyzed.

I find hope and rest, however, remembering that this is not the first time I've felt this way. Just four short months ago, I awaited the birth of my second child. I remember sitting around, big and pregnant, feeling like I knew what to expect even less than I did the first time. And I was excited and overwhelmed and scared and unsure and grateful all at the same time. I had no idea what to expect, and at times, that left me almost paralyzed.

I so badly wanted to meet my new baby, but I just as badly didn't want to end the special relationship my husband and I had with our - then - only daughter, Elizabeth. What the three of us had was good - perfect, you might even say. And since I had no clue what a family of four would look like, it was really hard to be excited about giving up the known for the unknown.

But, regardless of my readiness, time kept ticking. Before I knew it, I was sitting in bed one night timing contractions in tears. Not because they hurt so much as because my heart hurt. I ached to meet my new baby, but I wasn't ready to not be pregnant any more. I wasn't ready to say good-bye to the blissfulness of having an only child. It became profoundly clear to me that in order to experience the birth of a new baby, I first had to experience the death and grief of a pregnancy ending. And ready or not, the baby was coming.

And now...well, I know that, in many ways, all those fears were ridiculous. Charlotte is amazing and brings so much joy and life to our home. I love her with a fierce, profound love, and she has only brought good to our lives. Yes, the old season had to end, but the new season is magnificent and breathtaking.

So here I am again. Its clear that a new thing is being born, and I have no idea what it will look like. There is a part of me that wants to run scared back to what is comfortable. But, alas, that's impossible. The contractions have begun. They bring with them many aches, to be sure. But it is time to get ready. In a few short days, the old will be gone, and a new relationship and season in life will be birthed.

And all I can do is seek rest and peace knowing deep in my soul that, in every death, there is rebirth and new life - life greater than we can comprehend.

Every time.

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