A New Kind of Broken
Tomorrow, I don’t have a church to go to. Yes, I have many options for church in my city, but MY church is gone.
We hosted our last service on November 14th (a sweet time of remembrance and sorrow). Then we spent the last two Saturdays and Sundays sorting, packing, and cleaning. There is nothing left to do, and tonight I find myself attempting to process what will not occur tomorrow.
For the past couple of months, I haven’t been able to put words to the loss, the unwavering faith, and even the guilty hint of relief that occasionally trickles through ever so briefly.
The Monday after we announced that we would have to close due to the lack of resources and our inability to bounce back from the impacts of the pandemic I wrote the following:
I am no stranger to brokenness, but this feels different somehow.
As I stood in my kitchen preparing for work this morning, I told Jon and Ella, “I want to scream or cry, but I guess I’ll go to work.” I had just drafted and sent out an email for those who had missed our Sunday announcement that we have to close our church.
Sunday morning, I hid in my car. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing until two members pulled up for pre-service worship practice. I had simply stayed in the passenger seat because I needed more time to apply my makeup in the sun visor mirror, but when the young couple walked towards the building, I realized how much time had passed since I applied the finishing touches of my mascara.
I spent most of the rest of the morning before service staring at the gallery wall featuring our church family outside the kids’ area, the coffee station in the lobby, and the custom-made canvas prints of our core values. I felt overwhelmed by the idea of trying to figure out how to break down and distribute the physical embodiment of our church: all the symbols of what we had dedicated our lives to for the past six-plus years just waiting to be disassembled and dispersed.
Oh… and I cried. A lot.
At the close of the sermon. Jon and I sat side by side looking into the faces of people we love to let them know we could no longer continue the church we had poured ourselves into. We sat without a place to hide the depth of our pain.
Our church has been on life support for over a year, and we had to make the gut-wrenching decision to pull the plug before it drained us of everything we had as individuals and a family.
We gave birth to this church.
We dreamed; we planned; we nurtured; we watched with pride; we wept in shared sorrows; we laughed around tables; we dreamed some more; and we gave our time, energy, finances, and our all in hopes of giving Redemption Church a long, fruitful life.
And that is where I stopped. I couldn’t wade deeper into the grief. And tonight, I feel the undercurrent pulling me. I’m not sure if I’m adrift, sinking, or desperately trying to get back to shore…
Tomorrow I will not walk into our lobby to see the words “Welcome Home” hanging above our coffee station. I will not move about the building arranging this and that to make sure the space feels as comfortable as walking into someone’s living room. I won’t hear Shelly and Kimberly running through the worship set and be swept away by the beauty and tenderness of their voices leading. I won’t see Abigail’s open smile or gentle tears.
I won’t hug the necks of my church family or listen to Jon share God’s word from his careful study and genuine belief. I won’t watch Kaleb laugh as young kids tumble and climb around and on him, observe Ella intently taking notes, or catch Annalyn laughing with Summer about something that is likely to be slightly sarcastic. I won’t listen to the joys or the concerns of so many people who I’ve grown to love deeply over chips and salsa during a post-service lunch at Plaza Azteca.
There are so many moments that won’t happen tomorrow, so tonight I hold tenderly the moments that came before.
I am no stranger to grief, so although this is a new kind of broken, the raw and vulnerable places still recognize the warm embrace of gentle grace as I lean into the arms of a God who equally understands triumph and loss.