I’ve learned that a dream is only as valuable as the plan for accomplishing it. And I’ve learned that the dream of healthy, deepening relationships with my God, my wife, and my children is of far greater importance. I’ve learned that, even as the odds were stacked against me, God was shaping me and my ministry style. And I’ve learned that the end result of this chapter of my life does not invalidate who I have become and what I have come to value as a leader and pastor.
People had been hinting at the possibility I’d made a mistake almost since I’d moved to Indy. Friends, family members, people who had my best intentions at heart, asked questions as a means of expressing misgivings about my situation. And then they voted with their wallets: when I sent out a letter asking for support from the churches I had grown up in, with leaders who had known me since I was a child, only one church responded with a one-time gift. Included on the list of churches who did not even respond to my letter was the church pastored by my father.
When I think about that building, I laugh just to keep from crying. The boarded window spaces were only accentuated by the peeling paint on the outside, and mold was growing on the walls of the nursery inside. I distinctly remember arriving one Sunday morning to find that a raccoon urine had soaked through the dropped ceiling and formed a puddle directly on top of my hymnal.
At times, I vacillate between being frustrated at God and being angry with myself. I feel relief, and then I feel guilt for feeling relief. At the last Sunday evening gathering, as everyone enjoyed food and games and being together, I ran upstairs, locked myself in my bathroom, and sobbed for twenty minutes. Already my relationships with my wife and children are better off for my decision, but that just means I was messing it up before, I tell myself.