Leaving: some reflections

Leaving is exhilarating and exhausting

Leaving is breath-taking and heart-wrenching.

Leaving is thrilling and plain hard.

I’m not a ‘leaver’, I’m a joiner. I want to be a part of something that will change the world. I want to look back and say “That was the time we did that…” And that has got me into some brilliant and crazy things in life. I picked up a lot of different ‘hats’ to wear: wife & mother, schools worker & volunteer youth worker, gospel choir member & administrator, cake baker & Sunday School taker, to name just a few.  I would swap one hat for another several times in one day let alone in a week. I wasn’t going to be able to keep it up for long and I had to put most of it down. I left choir & the café I’d been baking for at the same time; I recommended closing the Friday Night youth club I had loved being a part of & it did. I left schools work.

None of which prepared me for how it feels to know you are leaving the church community you’ve been a part of for 20 years.

Despite being sure God was leading the way I was in no way prepared for feeling as desolate as I do today. My best friend left Eastbourne and that was hard, still harder than I expect it to be, a year on.  I know that God was in that too. How can things be so certain and so uncertain all at the same time?

And yet… recently Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby stated plainly that he has doubts about God. Many responses have felt rather incredulous “What do you mean, doubts? But surely not!” I would add my voice to those saying “You too? Thank God I’m not on my own.” Someone else pointed out: the opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty: certainty which drowns out questions and other points of view; certainty which colours life in black or white; certainty which says I am right and you are wrong. This is the enemy of a living, breathing life of faith.

So if I am heartsick and uncertain today that’s OK. God knows, still loves me and still calls me onward in this journey of up & downs, swings & roundabouts, leavings & joinings which amount to life: this life of faith and doubt.

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