Adoption

Adoption in The Bible

We are excited that this week’s guest blogger is Rhegan.  She shares with us her own personal adoption story and teaches us a bit about what The Bible says about it.

Let’s get to know each other-you know those games. Every time you are at an event with new people and you have to come up something interesting about yourself. What was my answer? I am adopted. Every. Single. Time. It’s unique, and after all I was told it made me special and chosen. I would proudly answer any questions that came up and talk about how someday I would find my birth parents, thank them and let them know I’m alright. (Now the questions are harder to answer and I’m not feeling quite as thankful, but I am better than ever).

What I didn’t realize was that the pain of being relinquished was continually being pushed down and eating away at who I really am. I clung to the verses in Psalm 139:13-16

13 For you created my inmost being;    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;    your works are wonderful,    I know that full well.15 My frame was not hidden from you    when I was made in the secret place,    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;    all the days ordained for me were written in your book    before one of them came to be.

Though I felt unwanted and unworthy, I had to believe God had a plan in all of this.

Adopted at 2 weeks old, I grew up with more questions than answers. I had two pages that told me some basic things about my birth parents. I knew they had blonde hair and blue eyes, but what did they REALLY look like? And did I look like either of them? I knew my mother had plans to continue on in school and get married, but did she ever do that? And did she ever think of me?  I knew where I was born, but where was she from and where was she now?

Adoption itself can be a wonderful thing; a family taking in someone else’s child to raise them as their own. We use terms like lucky, blessed, and chosen. What we often forget is that first that child had to first lose their original family, lose the connection they had with their mother.  No matter the age of the child, this is traumatic (and often unrecognized even by the adopted person).    For those of us adopted as infants, what our brains can’t remember our body stores and buries and often manifests in other ways until we are ready to heal from that.

I was always proud to be adopted on the outside, but inside-when I occasionally let myself feel – it hurt.   

Christians often use Scripture to support adoption or to compare adoption as we know it today to our adoption into God’s family. While there are some correlations, it can be very triggering for adopted persons and has turned many away from having a relationship with God or fellowship in the church. Adoption as we know it today is improving (debatable), but for a century was shrouded in secrecy and shame. Unwed mothers often coerced or forced into letting go of their own flesh and blood because of their “sin” or their assumed “inability” to care for their child.  People representing the church have hurt many involved in adoption and made them hard towards God. In addition, comparing human adoption with spiritual adoption often sets up adopted parents as “saviors” and expects adopted children to be grateful and forever loyal, forgetting our past. We need our past, our present, and our future.

The word Adoption in the New Testament is used only 5 times and is used by Paul who understood Roman culture and was speaking to Gentiles. While adoption was essentially unheard of in the Jewish culture, the Romans often practiced adoption as a means of lineage and inheritance. In scriptures speaking to Jews, salvation was described as being born into God’s family because of the importance of blood lines. In Roman culture adoption expressed permanency and that son (and rarely daughter)  was then given the inheritance or power that would have come to their biological child; but there were some key differences then what we see today. The adopted person took on the name of their adopted family, but also kept an adapted name of their birth family. They were not expected to cut ties and enjoyed the connections from both families.  My name was changed and my original identity and family was locked up as a secret I have limited to no access to.

People also like to highlight two famous “adoptions” in the Old Testament: Moses and Esther. These too are in stark contrast to what we know today as adoption, not to mention adoption was non-existent in Jewish culture. Moses was still nursed by his mother and was able to stay with her until he was older. He always knew where he came from, his heritage, his people, his culture, his God. Growing up in the palace was God’s provision to keep Moses safe until he could save God’s people.  Esther was adopted by a family member only after her own parents had died. Neither was forced into a life of a secret past with no answers. God had a special plan for both of them, but their adoptions were not like my own.

In recent years we have seen an increase in inter country adoptions and this call to care for the world’s orphans based on Scripture.  Though certainly done with sincere intentions, and while indeed there are children around the world in need of homes, many “orphans” have family who simply can’t afford to care for them. UNICEF’s definition of orphan is a child who has lost one parent by death or abandonment. This greatly exaggerates the number of orphans that really need a home and inter country adoption has fueled kidnapping, trafficking, and baby selling  in many countries.  Scripture tells us to care for widows and orphans- and sometimes that’s a package deal. The term orphan can also be translated fatherless.  A woman who lost her husband and the child who lost his/her father would be considered a widow and an orphan. It is then our job   to support the mother and child so they can remain together. (like this great program in Africa.) Family preservation needs to be higher on our list. Eventually Moses left his place of position to return to his family.   God loves to restore families.

This past year I have been on an incredible journey. A journey that I thought was just about finding my birth parents, but what I ultimately found was myself.

Being adopted was God’s provision for me. I grew well and He blessed me in the life I now have. Last summer I was reunited with my mother and THAT was God’s plan. I can look at how he worked in my life and in the situation to bring me right to her.  You can read about it here.

God is healing both of us. God is healing my extended family. God is helping me find value. God is helping me be comfortable in who I really am, not who I think others want me to be.

In the very beginning, God created us to be His; His people who He had a relationship with. He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden but then sin entered in and separated us from a holy God. He then sought out Abraham and made the Israelite people His. Today, Christ’s sacrifice allows us to be adopted back into fellowship with Him as His children. I see adoption in Scripture more like a reunion. Adoption is used to describe our salvation, our welcoming us into His presence, His family, His inheritance. He has always loved me as His own child, but I had to decide to search, find, and accept Him in order to be reunited with Him and join His family.

Rhegan                                              Rhegan and her birth mother reunited

 

 

 

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A New Approach to Memorial Day: Thoughts from a Pacifist

To steal a quote from one of my fellow pacifists, Jeff, “I feel conflicted about conflict.”  I identify with that quote when it comes to Memorial Day or Fourth of July, or anything that supports war.  I am grateful for the people who have served my country in the various wars and battles, I support our troops and the sacrifices they made, but I cannot support war itself.  I think it’s a very sick system.  So how am I be grateful for troops and despise war at the same time?  Well… it’s complicated…  And I’m not here to go on a rant about pacifism, but if you want to hear about my beliefs, you can read them here.

This year, I wanted to do something that honored both of my beliefs, and somehow meditate on both of them.  I wanted to remember those overseas fighting, the veterans, the families, and the sacrifices, but I also wanted to remember war is not the answer, that our enemies are not ‘others’ and we are to be praying for those who persecute.

I decided to read various parts of Scripture (wherever the Spirit lead me) and light a tea candle and pray over each passage.

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Initially, the idea sounded like something cheesy I would read in some women’s devotional book, but I decided to go ahead with it and see what happens.  It ended up being a great time spent with God.  The majority of the Old Testament brought a conviction and a reminder of why war is evil.  The New Testament brought many tears, a sniffling nose, and a desire to repent.  So, here is where the Spirit lead me…

John 1–Jesus is life.  “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  Jesus is God incarnate in human flesh and dwelt among us.

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Genesis 3–The Fall of humanity.  This is where death enters, and it is not something of God, but rather, a result of disobeying God’s commands.  God’s original design did not involve death.

Genesis 4–The first sin after The Fall is recorded.  God says to Cain, “But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”  Then Cain kills Abel.  The Lord confronts Cain about it, and Cain confesses and then fears that someone will take his life.  “But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.”  The Lord puts a mark on him to keep him safe.  The Lord did not kill Cain although he deserved it.  God had mercy on the first murderer.

Genesis 9–”Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.”  God opposes murder.  We kill His image.

Genesis 7 and other sections of Scripture about genocide, wars, and death.  May we never use these passages to justify violence, but rather, admit that God’s ways and understanding are beyond our own.

Exodus 20:13–Thou shalt not murder.

Leviticus 19:11-13–During the time of The Law, touching a dead body was deemed unclean, impure, unholy.  If someone did not do the cleansing ritual required they were to be cut off from Israel.  Death is not of God.

Leviticus 17:10-13–Blood represents life because it is required for life.

Isaiah, other Major and Minor Prophets, where the message was, “Do not form alliances.  Trust God alone.”  May we be people who trust God and God alone.

Beatitudes, Matthew 5– I read and prayed over several of these categories, which brought me to tears…

“Blessed are those who mourn…” For the families and friends who grieve the death of a loved one who lost their life in war or as a result to the war.

“Blessed are the meek and peacemakers…”  I pray we find a better way to stand up for ourselves and fight without harming others emotionally, verbally, spiritually, mentally, etc…  May we remember the peacekeepers that have gone before us.

“Blessed are the merciful…”  May we be people who forgive and show mercy.

“Blessed are those that are persecuted…” I pray for ISIS.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven…” I pray for those who are losing their lives and are taken from this earth too early.

“Let your light so shine before men…” Although they face death early, may their death not be in vain.  May God be seen through their life and death

vs. 23-24–Do not become angry, but rather seek reconciliation, for reconciliation is greater than sacrifice.  God may we seek reconciliation with our enemies, rather to seek death or a victory in war.

vs. 38-42–Do not seek revenge on another person.  May we not seek revenge for the pain, hurt, or attacks.

vs. 43–”You have heard it was said, “Love your neighbor, hate your enemy.”  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in Heaven…  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even the pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”  What a reminder and a call to love.  God, may we love those who fight in the Middle East and even our enemies on our own soils who do violent acts.  May you work in our hurts to love and turn us away from hate

Matthew 7–Do not judge or we too will be judged.  May we not judge the offenders, but love.

vs. 7–Ask… Seek…. Knock…  May we seek what is the right way to handle conflict.  May we stand up in a way that God calls us to.

vs. 12–”So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and Prophets.”  If we do not want others to attack, may we remember not to attack them in offense or defense.

vs. 24–”Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  May we become wise.

Romans 12–We are to be living sacrifices.  “Do not conform to this world but be transformed by he renewing of your mind.”  Violence is of this world.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  May we be transformed from violent people, into those who fight with peace.

Romans 12:9-21–”Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those that mourn.  Live in harmony with one another,  Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it possible as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

I John 1–In Jesus there is no darkness.  If we are in the light, we must walk in the light as Jesus is in the light.  “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Dear Lord, forgive us of us our sin of pride, vengeance, hatred, war, violence and the lack of understanding that we are all humans trying to make it in this world.  Please give us guidance, love and righteousness so that we may be your light in a dark world.

So be it.  (Amen!)

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Written in memory of my Grandpa Andy, who served as a Seabee in WWII and helped clean up after Pearl Harbor.  He died when my mom was young.  The only things I have to serve as “memories” are pictured here:  photographs, an antique display case, and his peacoat.

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candles 4                                                  Grandpa and Grandma Andy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

foster parent quote

What I’ve Learned as a Foster Parent

This week our guest blogger is Julie who shares with us about her experience as a foster parent.

If you had asked me 18 months ago when my husband and I were having kids, we would have told you that we weren’t.  We didn’t want children.  It wasn’t in our plan.  We liked our freedom, our quiet, and our dogs.  So much for that.

There was a family that had been attending our church for quite some time.  They struggled economically and there had been several questionable situations that suggested something serious and foul was happening within the household.  On the evening of Easter 2014, I got a phone call from one of the kids that the family was in a homelessness situation.  They were being put up in a hotel for the week until a more permanent solution could be found. One of the seven children (we’ll call her Kiddo) needed a way to get to and from school, and since she was one of my teens I offered to let her stay with us.  Her school was on the way to my job and, after all, it was only a temporary situation.

In less than a week we were approached by DCFS and asked to be foster parents to the teenager we had taken in just a few days before.  They explained how difficult it is to find homes willing to take in teenagers. I texted my husband a short novel about what was going on and he responded with one simple word.  Absolutely.   The first day was an absolute whirlwind.  We are not licensed foster parents.  We are acting as godparents, so we are able to foster as relative caregivers.  There was seemingly endless paperwork, background checks, home inspections, and an ER visit all within the first couple of hours.

The last 13 months have brought many surprises.

  1. I didn’t realize how many people that I knew had been involved in foster care. There were people from our church, other students at Kiddo’s school, people just kept popping up out of the woodwork. It has been really amazing to me the number of people who have been involved as fellow foster parents, or who had family members who were foster parents, or who had volunteered or worked in some aspect of the system.
  2. Working with teenagers, and parenting a teenager are two very different things. All respect in the world to parents of teenagers. Seriously, you guys are amazing.
  3. Navigating the foster care system is like a roller coaster. It is full of ups and downs. Things can change in an instant, not just day to day, but even hour to hour.
  4. The rights of the parents are often calculated before what is in the best interest of the child. There is a phrase I have grown to detest in the process called “minimum parenting standards.”   The ultimate goal for children in foster care is to be reunited with their family. The families are offered a variety of services to help correct the situations that got the kids into care in the first place. If the state can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the parent is unable to meet these minimum parenting standards, at that point the goal changes to adoption or independence depending upon the age of the child.

I have been reminded throughout this process how God calls us to this important ministry of foster parenting.  Just as we have loved and taken Kiddo into our home, God has loved and taken each of us into His kingdom, and He calls us to do the same.  “He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.  From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight” Psalm 72: 13-14.

I was not prepared for how discouraging and emotionally draining foster parenting can be.  Sometimes it feels like we, as foster parents, are the only ones fighting for these kids.  Maybe it is because we have the daily contact with them.  We are with them through the big and the small.  It has challenged me to rely on God in new and deeper ways than ever before.  God gave me a verse that has stuck with me over the last several months.  It’s Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”  When I am consumed with worry for my Kiddo, I am constantly and consistently reminded to simply trust.

It has been a crazy process, but we are so glad we could help Kiddo and her family in this way.  We are even considering becoming licensed foster parents.  If you have ever considered foster parenting or foster to adopt, I recommend it.  I would not trade a single minute of it.  If you are unable to foster, please pray for children in the system, for their foster parents, for their biological families, and for the caseworkers and judges who are making the decisions that will impact the lives of these children forever.

Trusting as the moments fly

Trusting as the days go by

Trusting Him whate’er befall

Trusting Jesus that is all

-Simply Trusting Every Day by Edgar Page Stites

God

God is… Mother?

With Mother’s Day being celebrated last Sunday, I saw one of my favorite theological satire FB pages, Unvirtuous Abbey, post the following status, “For churches who celebrate Mother’s Day but not God as the Mother of All.”   I read it.  I chuckled.  If God is neither male nor female…  Why do some people get so offended when God is referred to as Mother or any other female pronoun?

Let’s start off by debunking some Spoon-Fed Pop-Culture Theology, because… well… because I like debunking Spoon-Fed Pop-Culture Theology.  While I was growing up, I was told that God was referred to as male because of the patriarchal system of the day.  This is a common teaching, in fact, teaching materials are created to populate this view, such as this one.    However, patriarchy isn’t the reason for male pronouns in reference to God, so let’s just throw that little theory out in the trash!

But that does leave a question in our minds:  is there a specific reason that God is referred to as a male?  Yes.  Yes, there is.  And this reason is called, polytheism.  What does that mean?  Well, let’s break the word down, because that’s really the easiest way to understand theological words.

Smack dab in the middle of the world, polytheism, we see the root word, ‘the’, and ‘the’ means ‘god’.  For example, theology, is the study of God.  Next, we have the prefix ‘poly’ which means—MANY (as in a polygon); as opposed to the word ‘mono’ which means—ONE (as in monochromatic).  The suffix ‘ism’ takes a noun and makes it into an action or practice, such as baptism.  So therefore…

Polytheism means—a belief in MANY GODS

…as opposed to…

Monotheism—a belief in ONE GOD

So, how in the world are polytheism and male pronouns connected?

Hey, thanks for asking!  Let me explain…

According to “Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch” in Near Ancient Asia, back in historical days, back when the first books of The Bible were being written, polytheism was extremely popular.  Several belief systems included polytheism, such as the religious beliefs in the cultures of the Canaanites and the Egyptians.  Polytheism typically had several gods and goddesses that reproduced (which makes me picture polytheistic sex education sounding a bit like this:  when a daddy god and a mommy goddess love each other very much…)  Also, there were times when mere humans were viewed as gods in their earthly life and/or in the afterlife which also caused reproduction of gods in polytheism too.  For example, the Pharaoh in Egypt and the Roman emperor were both considered gods.

According to “Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch”, in the belief of polytheism, goddesses were closely related to two major ideas: 1.) sexuality and 2.) creation/earth.  So why was Yahweh referred to as male?  First of all, so God would be portrayed as asexual.  Secondly, God is holy, but humanity is unholy, and to make Yahweh a female, these two things could not exist separately.  A goddess would have to be holy and so would her creation, or she would have to be portrayed as unholy and so would her creation.  Think of it like this: a pregnant mother cannot eat ice cream and give her baby the nutrients of carrots.  If the mother eats ice cream, her unborn child receives the same nutrients of the ice cream.  (And all the expectant mothers reading this said, “oh darn!”)  Therefore, to keep God true to His persons and character as holy, and to keep humanity true to our person and character as unholy, God was best described in male pronouns.

So, there you have it.  This is why God is described in male pronouns.

But why do people today become upset or insist on Yahweh being referred to in  male pronouns?  Honestly, it can sometimes be a patriarchal view and the fear that if God is referred to as a woman that would make Yahweh weak, but that is not the only case.  There are other reasons as well.  For example, sometimes, it’s as simple as being creatures of habit.  We have always referred to God as male, and so… well, it sort of stuck.  Sometimes, people feel that to use female pronouns seems too close to New Age, Mother Earth, or other false/questionable beliefs we want to set Yahweh a part from.  Other times it can be a matter of staying consistent with The Bible.  And there may be other reasons as well.

The important thing is to know that it is just as accurate to call Yahweh male as it is to call Yahweh female, since Yahweh is neither.  Yahweh is genderless.  And if you watched the video I linked above, you probably noted that in The Bible God isn’t strictly only described in the male perspective/pronoun.

So, can we preach about Yahweh being Mother to all and be theologically sound?  Yes, just as much as we can preach about Yahweh being Father to all and be theologically sound.

resign

The Day I Resigned

My fingers trembled as I lifted the phone to my ear. Thousands of butterflies took up residence in my stomach as my fingers slowly began dialing the number of my direct supervisor. This is it, I said to myself, There’s no going back now. I held my breath as the phone rang gently in my ear. I could barely keep my voice even as I asked the administrative assistant to connect me to my supervisor.

“Hello?”

“This is Ruth.” Deep breath. “I’m calling to tell you I have decided to resign.”

My eyes skimmed the notes I had jotted down to be certain I didn’t leave anything out of this important call. And I waited with anticipation and a little anxiety. I had rehearsed the speech a hundred times that morning, but this was the part where my imagination went silent. I couldn’t even begin to formulate the response I might receive from him. Would it be condemnation? Pity? Anger? Cold professionalism? How would my other colleagues react?

When you work for an organization long enough, it begins to feel like family. This is especially true for a church. Sure, some days my church feels stifling—rules and regulations flow freely as representatives from the head office demand reports and programs and statistics and updates. But this “stifling” could also be described as “security.” It was this authoritative hierarchy that knit us together as fellow pastors. We complained about the same regulations and uniformity that bonded us as allies. What would my colleagues, fellow members of the organizational family, think of my decision? Would they assume that only a grievous sin could rip me from my calling? Or feel betrayed by one of their own? Or just sad for a loss? Or, maybe, just maybe, they would rejoice with me as I stepped out in faith.

 

Step One: Called to Serve

As I contemplated my colleagues’ reaction, my mind went back to a wooden altar in a camp chapel in Wisconsin. The altar where I knelt and heard, oh so clearly, a calling from God: “I want you to serve in full time ministry.”

The speaker had started his message promising that we would know God’s will for our lives by the end. He used the image of an egg—a white and a yolk. If God’s will is the white and your will is the yolk, you can go anywhere you want, do anything you want. But if you make God’s will the yolk and try to fit him into your life, you’ll always have problems.

Don’t ask me how, but that simple illustration translated to a call to ministry. I had made a commitment as a teenager that whatever God called me to do, I would do. I refused to waste any time attempting to run. So when I heard God call me into full time ministry I said “Yes.” I remember feeling inadequate, and more than a little scared. But I told God “If that’s what you want from me, then I’ll do it. I’ll need a lot of help, but I’ll do it.”

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Step Two: A Crisis of Career

Fast forward 13 years. I followed God’s calling into ministry and began serving with my church as a pastor. I soon began to feel the burden of ministry. It’s not a typical 9-to-5 job. It’s long, lonely, heart-breaking hours with little pay, few accolades, and a constant supply of critics. I was miserable most of the time.

There are true rewards in ministry and I experienced them, but I also experienced the heaviness of the work. As I looked back at my ministry, the misery outweighed the reward. And I knew that wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. I knew other people who were called to this work and loved it. They felt the burdens, too, but the rewards were enough to counter that burden.

I looked closely at my life to see what exactly I didn’t like about my job:

It wasn’t the people. I loved working with people—heartache, joys, and everything in between.

It wasn’t the town or the church I was assigned.

It wasn’t the office staff. I worked with an excellent group of employees.

It was pastoring that I didn’t like. It was being responsible for another person’s spiritual life. It was being on-call 24/7. It was never leaving the work at the office, as spiritual burdens tend to follow you home and gnaw at your mind as you attempt to fall asleep. It was getting a call on vacation to hear someone criticize me. It was the constant feeling that I was behind on emails, or reports, or program preparation. It was the relentless anxiety that I was not measuring up to someone’s ideal of pastor—whether it was my colleague, my supervisor, a representative from the head office, or one of my parishioners. There was never a day that I found approval from all sides.

I know what you’re thinking: Ruth, that happens in every job. No matter where you work, you’ll find someone who doesn’t think you’re good enough. True enough, but that doesn’t erase the sting of the feeling of spiritual inadequacy.

Maybe at this point you’re saying: Ruth, why did it matter that you didn’t please a few people. Isn’t it God you’re supposed to be pleasing anyway? Another valid point. And if you can confidently say that no one else’s opinion matters, then maybe you’re cut out for the ministry. But it did matter to me. And I couldn’t shake it.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t something I could fix by just not caring about others’ opinions. It was deeper than that. I was miserable in my job calling, and I wanted out.

 

Step Three: God’s Release

I struggled with understanding how I could hear God’s voice so clearly as a teenager, but question that same calling as an adult. God, didn’t you call me? Did I hear you wrong? Did you change your mind? Did you get the wrong person? Am I just not working hard enough? Do I need to hold on a little longer? Stick it out through the wilderness and find the reward?

These were the questions swirling through my mind as I prayed at a retreat. Suddenly I found myself drawing a picture of an egg in my journal. God’s will is the white, the notes seemed to scream at me. This job is only one small piece of the whole picture. “You’ve served me well in this area, but I have other areas of ministry.”

Tears ran down my cheeks as I felt God’s release. This ministry wasn’t a life sentence after all. It was okay to not like it. It was okay to move on.

 

Step Four: Resignation

It would be more than a year before I acted on that release. God continued to work in my life as I experienced a whole new level of joy and heartache in this ministry.

But, eventually, I had to do the right thing for myself and for the people I serve. It was time to resign from my position.  When I finally made that decision, a weight lifted from my shoulders.

Then, I knew I had to give my resignation to my supervisor.

I waited anxiously to hear his response to my resignation. No condemnation. No questioning me about God’s will or if I had prayed enough about it. Just a calm acceptance, and concern for my wellbeing.

Few things are as rewarding as discovering your boss is a godly leader. Although, I really had nothing to fear. In the short time he had been my boss I had been called into his office twice, and he had calmly sat through my blubbering in front of him. He had assured me that I had what it took to do the job. In every interaction he made it clear that he cared about me as a person, not just as one of his charges. And when it came time to hear my resignation, he prayed with me.

 

Step Five: Now What?

Soon, everyone will hear the news of my resignation. I began with close friends, family, and cherished mentors. I have heard messages of encouragement, confirmation of my decision. But now I will really find out what people think.

Maybe some will say that I failed. That’s okay. Really, I did fail, and it’s a good thing.

One of my favorite podcasts is Freakonomics, a quirky look at economics and life. One of their most popular podcasts is called “The Upside of Quitting” where they examine just how good quitting can be for your health and life. One of the interviews was with Eric Greitens, a Navy SEAL talking about “Hell week” where recruits are pushed to their limits and many end up quitting. It turns out there are two kinds of quitters, the ones who make excuses and the ones who are honest with themselves:

“I don’t think many people want to say to themselves that they’ve quit. At the same time, we’ve all failed in our lives, we’ve all failed at different things in different ways and I think there’s a lot to be said about facing that failure squarely. And the people who I know, who were able to admit, ‘This isn’t right for me at this time and I decided to quit,’ they’re really able to move on from their experience. And I do find that there’s only shame in it if you feel shame.

quit now

I’m not leaving because this work is hard. I’m not leaving because of my political or theological views. I’m not leaving because I’m angry with God or with the organization.

I’m leaving because this is not right for me anymore. God is leading me elsewhere. I’m anxious about the future, about stepping out of the comfortable security of this job, but I’m confident in the words of Stanley Ditmer:

I’m in His Hands, I’m in his hands,

Whatever the future holds, I’m in his hands

The days I cannot see have all been planned for me

His way is best, you see, I’m in his hands.