Last night I read over Derek’s letter to the congregation asking for peaceful release to Praise Lutheran. It was long. He said it was long, and I began to read, determined to slash away and cut down to the basics.
Instead, I cried. And then, I cried again today when he read it to the congregation. A lot of them cried, too. It was a hard day. The part that got me sniffling last night:
I promise you, that we will not be strangers. Indeed, six years ago, we were strangers and you welcomed us. Now I reflect that, even though you can remove a man and his family from First Lutheran, however, you cannot remove First Lutheran from the man and his family. Thanks for that gift.
It’s true. First Lutheran was a bright beacon to us six years ago after Derek’s first call fell through because of synodical politics, leaving us devastated and in limbo for six months. We came to Knoxville with high hopes and were not disappointed. First Lutheran is an amazing congregation. We have been so blessed here. I am incredibly sad to leave.
But at least now I can talk about it. That in itself is a relief.
Part of me is really, really excited. Once my dad moved us to St. Louis so he could attend seminary, he unleashed a monster. We moved so many times after that, if a few years went by without a move or a major life change, I had to create my own change. So that part of me that’s always asking, “What’s next?” embraces the adventure. A new house! A new congregation! A new life! A chance to recreate and renew things I’ve always wanted to fix, and use my new mad skilz as a pastor’s wife on a whole new set of victims. And I look forward to seeing Derek grow and change and serve in a new chapter in his ministry.
That said, I’d also finally gotten to the point where I saw the good in longevity, in stability, in the same-old and the routine of a life with the same people through the seasons and the years and all the comfort that entails. It took about four years at First Lutheran to realize, hey, I’m really getting to know these people. I’m making friends! I know all the best places to shop! My baby trees are teenagers! I know how we run the children’s Christmas program and VBS and what we did the last five years in January in LWML!
Beyond my oscillating feelings, there are practical considerations. We have been busy making our house pretty to go on the market…just in case. Derek wanted to wait until he had made a firm decision and everything was official, but I did all the backwards math and with school starting August 1 in Maryville, the clock was ticking on selling our house and buying a new one. His thoughts are with the two congregations, but I have additional concerns: making the transition as easy as possible for my girls. They are nervous, reluctant, and excited, depending on the moment. I convinced Derek that if he decided to stay, we’d have a lovely house that finally looks just the way we want it to. I also discovered that painting is therapeutic.
Though the timing in some ways isn’t perfect for First Lutheran, it is good for our family. Sophia will be starting Kindergarten next year. Kate will begin 4th grade, when all the Maryville kids go to an intermediate school. One of the two is brand spankin’ new, so depending on where we buy a house, she might get to go to that school. Either way, all the kids will be “new kids.”
Jonathan, of course, is happy either way. His family is his home.
Kate asked me last night if Maryville was closer or further away from South Dakota, where their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins live. I said, “It’s further away, but only by 20 minutes.” She sighed heavily. “That’s so far.” I laughed at her, but she’s got a point. Twenty minutes is so far.