To the guys and girls we had the privilege of knowing:
It's been 385 days since we wore the titles Youth Pastor + Pastor's Wife. The thing about those titles is that they were so much more than labels, our job as your pastors felt so much more than a job.
It was an honor.
Most of you were rightfully hurting when we stepped out of that role and city.
I remember our last evening with you like it was yesterday; a memory burned into our heart forever. There was so much shock, feelings of abandonment, betrayal, confusion. One of you asked us if we were joking. Another said you didn't want anything to do with us. Others, most of you, squeezed us tight with tears in your eyes and told us you loved us.
Our parting words were read from a piece of paper that we typed up through tear soaked cheeks, as the liquid love fell from our eyes and onto the keyboard.
Both Youth Pastor Husband and I shook to our core the days leading up to that evening, and then through the duration of reading an all-too vague letter of goodbye. It was confusing and lacked reasoning, because in all honesty, the reasons were and remain to be too tender.
We miss you.
When we said goodbye and farewell, we reminded you to be kind, to see people, to be YOU without shame, to love Jesus fiercely. I still pray those things over you often.
Soon after saying goodbye, we had an "ideal offer" of a Youth Pastor position at a much bigger, much more established church, with a consistent salary, and even a home. We debated it with intensity, we prayed about it with vigor, hands open and hearts willing, though we did not feel ready.
We declined the offer. Our hearts were too wounded and we didn't feel we could move into another vocational ministry position with new kids to love, to reside in our hearts, to point to Him.
You still held our hearts.
We needed to grieve the loss.
The loss of pouring ourselves out and into you, some every day, others every week, but all of you...so often. We spent so much time with you. Youth group nights, Saturday morning breakfasts in our small home, ultimate frisbee nights, mud football, baking parties, sewing parties, coffee dates, spending time with people who were homeless... I mean we lived life together.
Over a year has passed and our life has changed drastically.
From afar, it may appear as though we have forgotten about our time with you, forgotten you and moved on. But dear ones, we talk about you and reminisce so often. We remembered all summer long how we weren't with you for camps and camping trips, water games and summer nights. Fall launch didn't happen and neither did baking cookies for you the night before the first day of school.
Our life has changed drastically but you have not been forgotten.
We gained two kids since saying goodbye. I grieved the dream I had of inviting you girls over all of the time to help with the babies and the laundry and the cooking. I grieved having you in their life. You loved them before you knew them. You waited with us for them. You made them gifts while we waited and prayed in faith with hope.
Youth Pastor Husband is now in grad school, working hard to earn his Masters of Arts in Teaching. He is going to be an elementary school teacher. He's working at the Trillium up here - it's much like the Trillium down there, but with younger kids.
I am writing and doing photography and raising babies right alongside Loren. Every time I have a senior session, I think of you and how I dreamed of doing your senior portraits.
We are part of a church, Imago Dei (image of God), and we really, really love it. It isn't anything like what we had with you, and we have not began volunteering in the youth ministry because our hearts are still so tender and raw...but we love our new church community.
We are searching for Jesus in all the ways and places and spaces, and we miss having you right along side us as we do it. As we find Him. I feel as though I have uncovered more of Him than ever, in this last year of life. I want so badly to sit across the Coffee Culture table and tell you all about Him. What I am learning. How He has stretched and humbled me.
And I want to hear from you. I want to know who are you hanging out with. Do you like any one? How are sports and dramas and theater and clubs and just plain hanging out? Have you been finding Him too? In the cracks and the little spaces, in the corners where things go unseen if you don't search and seek and squarely look?
He is in spaces I never expected Him to be. He is in the cracks and the corners, in the lowly and the hidden. He is everywhere.
I don't know if we will ever find ourselves back in a position that we were in, as Youth Pastors. But what I do know is that those were some cherished and treasured years. You guys...you guys changed our lives. You teens taught us how to listen. You taught me how to shut up and listen.
I am so sorry if you carry a wound that still feels entirely raw, in regards to us. He is so much bigger than us and I trust Him to work His healing and grace into your story. Just as I trust Him to work it into ours.
We miss you. We love you. We trust Him with your story, even if we no longer get to be a part of it.
-Your Ex-Pastor's Wife