Sunday, February 7, 2016

Book 2016, Chapter 1

In July of 2010, we visited a church in Lawrence, KS that sparked excitement and hope that was electric. We moved our family to Lawrence to be a part of it. 

In August of 2012, I wrote about what this church, EastLake, had done for us in the two years we had spent in the life changing love and community it was composed of.

Now in January of 2016, I write a goodbye to it.

We're in the middle of something big and heavy.

EastLake itself has been something bigger than I could have ever imagined. I've always been on a never ending search for God and sense and purpose. EastLake became an incredibly safe place for me to do that. And if God ever makes Himself known to Earth, if He ever decides to show Himself to the people He made, if He ever personally intervenes on behalf of those He loves, He did so with EastLake.

We came to EastLake ready for a new adventure and good Lord did we get one.
I had spent most of my life trying to make sense of Christianity and when we arrived at EastLake, ready to drive our roots into the ground,  I was also in the throes of some serious self righteous, holier than thou bullshit I thought I needed to be to be a good Christian. Talk after talk felt directly addressed to me - challenging me to forgive those who hurt me, apologize to those I hurt, soften my heart to vulnerability, break down the walls previous churches help me build, open my heart to the searching I still felt compelled to do and see, finally see, people's hearts through their stories and hurts.

Not only that, but a few months after relocating and beginning to plug in at Eastlake, I was devastated by personal turmoil that ravaged my heart, marriage and trust in anyone again. The community and people at EastLake were the ground when mine crumbled beneath me. They were there before I knew I needed them. They spoke love and change and demonstrated acceptance and importance the way I heard Jesus had. It was awe inspiring.

It IS awe inspiring.

EastLake will soon be closing its doors. Not because no one shows up, not because of some crazy scandal, not because it's broke, or broken. Because it's time. And boy does my heart ache over it. The grieving it invokes is unlike what I've experienced before. I'm aching that I have to explain to my kids what's going on, angry that it's ending, excited for another new chapter, hopeless that we'll ever find something like it again, thankful when I look back, fearful I'll lose my people.

I've been a somber shell or a crying mess or a strong and optimistic bulwark. Some of my closest friends, who are in leadership positions, already know and we see in each other's eyes this terribly confusing storm of emotions. The meeting where our lead pastor shared what was coming was met with an amazing response of hugs, tears and quiet hope. Quiet hope is definitely the front runner in my emotions lately. I worry that these last 5 in a half years will be those golden years you look back on. I worry what's in front of me is hard and dark and lonely. I worry I'll lose my people. These people watched me ugly cry and work through my darkness and make really dumbass jokes. They're my people.

On top of that, my husband then needed a job and every lead was crashing and burning. If being a parent to 3 kids, including a newborn, living in a single income family with that single income teetering on the brink of dissolution doesn't send you into a anxious, nauseated panic...then you must have more stability than I because I've been a hot, hot mess.

2016 will be an interesting year. If I weren't actually living it, I would be excited as hell. I love new chapters. I love adventures. I love change. But I am living it. And I'm consciously reminding myself to enjoy what I can in everything happening.
I will move on, with my people, to something wonderful. Maybe a new church, maybe just boozey nights with lots of laughing.

My husband and I decided this will be the time he starts his business. We both have known he would own his own business someday. He is the most entrepreneurial person I know. He has the heart, mind, creativity and discipline to do it beautifully. I just thought we'd be like, 40 when it happens. But as the chapter of this year unfolds, it seems increasingly obvious that now is the time. Venturing into this uncharted territory with 3 small children in tow is terrifying but sometimes embracing the exciting and terrifying leads you into purpose.

Having decided that, things are absolutely just as scary but there's a direction, whereas before I felt like I was dispatched into a lifeboat with no compass and praying our paddles work.

These next few months will be increasingly difficult to process. EastLake has given me much I will never forget and will forever, eternally be grateful for. It didn't exist as long as I wish, with all my heart, that it could have but it fulfilled so much in its time. I fully intend to take heart, grab  my paddle, follow my compass without falter and bring others into my lifeboat. (As much as an introvert can, really.)

EastLake gave me hope. I will go and do likewise.

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