A few weeks ago, after our goodbye on Sunday morning at First Church as well as some emotional Facebook posts, somebody asked me, "Are you even excited to move?! Why are you leaving Tuscaloosa if you love it so much?"
It's a good question.
If you've been following our journey publicly these last few weeks or months, we've been pretty silent about what's next. We haven't really shared in detail what we're doing or how excited we are about it. Actually, it's been the other way around. We've mourned publicly. We've expressed our sadness and sense of loss over leaving a place we love.
And so, from the outside I get the question. It could seem like we actually didn't want to leave. Or we were being forced out. Or we aren't too enthusiastic about what's next.
None of that, of course, is the case.
It all comes down to calling.
And I know...pastors are good at spiritualizing things. We have a bad reputation for blaming God when we want to do something. Or use him as a scapegoat for a decision we feel we need to make.
In this case, though, all I can tell you is that we feel called to what's next. We feel drawn. There was a sort of holy discontentment among us that almost forced us to where we are now.
I was talking with a friend the day we were driving from Tuscaloosa to New Jersey. He is going through a similar transition, and we both agreed, "The calling doesn't take away the pain."
Just because you are called to something doesn't mean you can't mourn the pain of the place you are being called from. The calling doesn't take away the sorrow of leaving a place you love. Leaving friends, family, a church. A good life filled with great ministry.
So these last months, these last weeks, these last days have been, for us, a process. As they should. We've been going through the stages of grief. And if we get past it too quickly, I'm afraid, we might miss something.
We're taking it slow. Giving ourselves grace. Ready for what's next (more about that in a future post), but not at the expense of cherishing what was.
The calling doesn't take away the pain...but at the end of the day you still have to follow the calling.