Saying Goodbye to My Church - Elisabeth Klein
I’m looking back on one of my most painful years, with more goodbyes than I’ve ever said. I’ve not only said goodbye to my marriage, but I’ve also said goodbye to my church of nineteen years, which includes countless people and memories. And in doing so, I am saying goodbye to how I look at things. I am saying goodbye to what I’ve known for most of my adulthood, saying goodbye to the security of doing what I’ve always done, saying goodbye to the place I thought I’d be a part of forever.  

But as I say all these goodbyes and let go of so much – some moments it feels like too much all at one time – I am looking back with such fondness, such gratefulness. I’m a sentimental girl…perhaps too sentimental. I have been replaying moments of the past nineteen years as if I’m watching a black and white movie. Baptisms and events and sweet times of prayer and worship and tears of joy and figuring out my spiritual gifts and making lifetime friends. And yet, so many, many hard moments as well. So many people I’ve hurt along the way with my rough edges and selfish words.  


In part, I have so many regrets, but then I must remember that God was in it all, he saw it all unfold. All of it, every relationship, every memory, every misstep.
 

So for now, I just have to lay it all down. I am one grateful girl to have walked my faith journey in the same community for so long, but for now, I need to be somewhere else if I’m going to heal. I don’t fully understand why, and it breaks my heart that staying isn’t part of the plan for me, but it’s not. I need to heal somewhere else.  

What this means for my future is uncertain. I don’t know if I’ll be going back. If I just need to heal and strengthen in the walls of another place where I am not known as someone’s ex-wife and then I will head back to my second home, or if I’m leaving for good.  

And I don’t know where I’ll end up yet, which totally terrifies me. And I’ve never chosen a church on my own. And I don’t know what I’m supposed to be looking for, and I don’t have the emotional energy to make new friends, and I hate small talk, and how do I go about telling my really hard, messy story to someone new as I start all over?  

But I don’t need to know the answers to any of those things today. So I have a spreadsheet in Excel to track the churches I’m visiting (yes, don’t be jealous or shocked). And then I’ve got Jesus. And I’m asking him to lead me. And I’m asking him where he wants me to go. And I’m asking for peace in the mourning. And I’m asking him to keep my mouth shut for a good six months so I don’t get myself into trouble in the new place.  

And I’m asking for grace, just lots and lots of grace.  

But now, for a brief moment, the LORD our God has been gracious in leavingus a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief…Ezra 9:8 (NIV)

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.