I was driving down a street in the neighborhood of some friends of my parents I had never met. I was trying to find their house. It was dark. Interpretation: I had no idea where I was. I'd been given oral directions, and, though I could remember them clearly, I still had the panicky feeling I was lost beyond hope of recovery. Images of Burmese Mountain dogs barking to my rescue after hours of wandering in an unfamiliar forest of unfamiliar houses flickered, like mood music, in the back of my head. I don't know why I was so tense. I hadn't taken any wrong turns.
But, I couldn't picture where I was going. Route and destination were reduced to descriptions of Rite-Aids at corners, street names, and houses with vans in driveways. Simply following directions can be frightening.
Sometimes life is like that. Even though you're going the directions you understand God to have given you, simply following feels precarious if you can't see the end... or even the route beyond a few days ahead. Despite peace, it can feel illogical and just... wrong.
After over a year of begging God's direction and months of sleepless nights... and many tears... I've made the hard decision to leave my church. The pain of personal loss... and the pain of knowing my doing so will cause pain for others... kicks me in the stomach like a mule. I've told God this doesn't fit. It feels too wrong. I'm disappointing people I love. Yet, He keeps putting barriers and signs in my way until I am rather forced to follow the directions to community in a different context.
Just as I felt insecure in my directions to the house with the van in the driveway because I didn't have a paper to clench, reassuring me I was remembering the directions correctly, it's frightening to leave behind the sense of identity that belonging to a congregation for almost five years provides. I know I'm a Jesus-follower. I know I am Anabaptist. Beyond that, all I have is the assurance that God will follow through on His promise to lead me... or turn me around if I've gone wrong.