I dunno… It’s something.
Today was my pastor’s last day serving at my church. I sat in the theater, alone and in my regular spot where there’s a short piece of railing available for resting one’s feet. I dressed as I normally do–completely casual. The day I heard my pastor was leaving, nearly two months ago, it was at the very end of pastor Greg’s sermon. It ended up being a 20 minute crying fest for me. I cried as though someone close to me had died. My little brother sat on my left side that day, content with the glazed doughnut in his hand. When he glanced in my direction and saw that my shirt collar was soaked with my tears, he held onto the current mouthful of doughnut for a moment longer than usual. He was surprised to see my face, illuminated by the movie screen in front of me, in its wet, red-blotchy spendor.
“Are you ok?” Something told me he was both concerned and slightly embarrassed by my current state.
I could only shake my head in answer. The napkin that once accompanied my chocolate sprinkled doughnut was now soaked and torn from wiping my eyes and nose.
When I got home from church, my parents were already in the kitchen, discussing other topics. When my mom looked at my red, swollen eyes, she gave a sympathetic look. “So you heard?” Mom and Dad had gone to the first service, therefore having known the terrible news for a full hour and a half before I did.
When I couldn’t speak, I resolved to cry into her shoulder and listen to her repeat, “It’s gonna be ok… We’re gonna find a new pastor… I know you hurt… I know it hurts…” Afterwards, I collapsed on my bed and cried even more into my pillow. I just couldn’t understand why the most talented speaker and pastor I have ever known would want to leave his profession. How would we ever find another man like him? I already knew the answer to that: no one. No one could replace pastor Greg; they could only take over, but that was it.
So, today at first service, I watched Greg (no longer with a title) as he spoke just as though he was never leaving and that this Sunday was just as any other Sunday. He didn’t seem to struggle or fight back tears, but I wondered if he was hurting. I know he loved speaking, but I also know he loves his family more, therefore sacrificing his career for them. It occurred to me during the sermon that I wasn’t becoming upset or blinking back tears–I simply listened and enjoyed the talk. It was refreshing and I was glad to be there. I wasn’t mourning and I wasn’t depressed. Even after I left, I felt fine. I feel at ease. Maybe even… at peace.
I will certainly miss hearing him speak. He was so funny and so accepting of everyone. It was easy to tell that when he spoke, he spoke to encourage and not to condemn or judge. I can only pray that we find someone to pastor the church who is just as tolerant of people and thinks on the same level as Greg. We are all on a journey–no one is better than the other. We simply have to help and love each other along the way.