An Early Goodbye

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It hurts. It just hurts so much inside when you know that someone close to you is moving away, even if it’s just to the other side of the country and you can still text, Facetime, or Skype them. Thank you technology for allowing us to communicate and keep relationships alive!

When I start attending the church I am currently at, I was in fourth grade. That was eight years ago and a whole lot has changed since then. During the first three years that I was there, my leaders were Niki, Rose, Louie, Big Tim, Ray, and all these other young fun leaders who knew how to make a child’s Sunday fun. They did an amazing job at leading worship and bible studies. I had a blast and I grew strong spiritually, even emotionally.

Back then I was the shyest girl around, and I did not make new friends the first day at church. Well, I did hang out with my cousins and her friends but they were other than me and I was more like a baby and a pet to them. The leaders helped me find a group of friends that were my age and they helped me slither out of the shell I always retracted to when the spotlight was on me.

I enjoyed my first three or so years at Midway Church until we had the church split, which especially affected the English speaking community of the church. It was a horrible experience for me, and hundreds of people left to a the new church in Fountain Valley or other churches around in Orange County. During this time, the church lacked leaders for the children’s ministry, junior high ministry, high school ministry, and even the college ministry. Second service was never the same because more than 2/3 of those who usually attended that service had left. As for all the children, teens, and young adults, we all felt the great loss. Yes, from the split another church was able to grow and more people were brought to Christ but during this time, back at the home church, every branch of ministry was hurting. I was in middle school back then and the split had occurred during the middle of my eighth grade year.

Some people started to step up and come into Midway as leaders. Some of the older leaders (well, they are not really old, they were in their early 20s) decided to stay back until summer and then leave. So that was how it was. I never got along with the new leader who stepped into JAR and worked alongside my other leaders. She was bossy, and what she was teaching bore us middle-schoolers. Who wanted to watch two hours of a long boring video about dinosaurs and the Bible? We were not interested in science and religion and we did not like the worksheets we had to fill out while watching the video. The other leaders did not like it either and this newer leader was just pushing everyone out of the way in order to take control of the junior high ministry. Many of my friends began ditching class and so did I. Others moved away to other CMA churches around in the OC.

After I graduated junior high at school and at church, I would be moving up to IMPACT, the high school ministry. Honestly, I was so scared. I did not know the new leaders, whereas I before I had a pretty strong relationship with all the other leaders who had left. I hardly ever attended high school ministry my freshman and sophomore year. I had no relationship with the new leaders whatsoever and I used that one hour that I had to study or hangout. I did go to about three of the events those two years. I only went to the winter and summer retreat my sophomore year. After the winter retreat I showed up to high school ministry about once or twice a month. My relationship with God was alright during that time. The relationship I had with my leaders were about a 3 on a scale of 1-10. I was not ready to open myself up to them.

After summer retreat and summer camp, I stepped out of my shy and my comfort zone. My relationship with God has been growing fruitfully since then. I was no longer a shy creature and I became active in the high school ministry. I attended all the events and helped out whenever I could. Eventually I built relationships with the leaders of the high school ministry and they became my older sister and brother. Up to this point, I have been going to them for advice for school and spiritual growth. I am a student leader in the high school ministry along with one of my best friends, Jenny.

Eventually the day I kind of had been dreading came. Both leaders, husband and wife are doctors, one with a PhD in history and the other, a dermatologist. Well, the dermatologist was waiting for her match and it turns out her match is in the east coast. That means they move. Another leader is also moving to the east coast to pursue his career as a pilot. Which leaves myself and my two friends left, one who is in college and the other, who is my age, a high school senior. Of course there will be others who step up to work with the high school ministry, but still…

Yes, I am extremely happy for the three leaders who are leaving at the end of June, but I am so sad. Everyone is. This coming Sunday, since all the leaders and adults already know that these three particular leaders are leaving, it is time for all the high schoolers to know.

On the outside, this is me:

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But on the inside, this is me:

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This is the second time I have to say goodbye to a pair of leaders who have done so much for me. Like the other leaders who attended my middle school graduation, they will be staying long enough to attend my high school graduation. I know that the time that I have left with them is not much, about four and a half months. It is going to be hard for me, for everyone.

Whatever happens, we each have our own future. God has a different plan for all of us. This is one of the middle sized goodbyes that I will have to say a second time in my life. The bigger goodbyes are twice as painful and take forever to heal. But with every goodbye comes a new hello. Do not be afraid of changes and of saying goodbye. No matter where the other individual is headed, there will be a day in the future where the both of you will reunite.

During times like this, step up to be a leader. Step up to embrace those who are hurting around you. Have a defusing and a debriefing session. Together as a community, you will rebuild. Accept the fact that you are going to have to say goodbye, and prepare to yourself with opened arms for a new hello.

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