Not to sound like an episode of Friends, but I only wanted a break. I didn’t know how long the break would be, but I really thought I only wanted a break from my job at the church. Unfortunately, under the umbrella of “Administrative Assistant” fall a lot of things that still needed to be taken care of, so for my pastor/boss to find someone to cover those things while I took a break for an indefinite amount of time wasn’t really an option. It took a series of messy conversations for he and I to determine that it wasn’t a good idea for me to continue working. There was a lot going on in my marriage and family and I had told my pastor that I was beginning to resent my job. The last thing any workplace, but especially any church, needs is an employee who resents what they are doing.
But not working for the church really threw me for a loop. I felt like I lost a part of my identity. I felt like I was disappointing people, including myself. I felt like when I initially took on my responsibilities at the church, I was signing up for life. No one made me feel that way, that was just the expectation I carried with me. I felt like working for my church earned me something in the eyes of God and without that, I was less worthy. That’s some bad theology, folks, but that was my heart. So while not working did indeed free up some mental space (more than I even anticipated), it also led me down a path of rediscovered legalism planted deep within my heart.
This stress and this change in my relationship with my pastor led to a dark few months for me. I was really struggling with this loss of role and didn’t know if I would still be wanted, accepted, and loved at my church. Again, no one was causing me to feel this way, these were just my own deep insecurities and false perceptions of who I am and where my value lies. It was around this time that my husband started talking again more seriously about moving out of our home and closer to our church.
One day it hit me that while our current city held a lot of hurt for him- this was the city that had “rejected” him and caused his business to fail- Oklahoma City represented a lot of new-found hurt for me. I was placing all of the pain of my lost identity on my church and the city at large. My husband wanted to escape. I wanted to stay where I was comfortable.