So Alex and I packed up and pulled out abruptly. I had a secluded meeting with my associate leader of the children’s scouting program to break the news that we were leaving the church. I could no longer run the program, couldn’t finish the year with them, and she needed to step up and take over. Talk about blindsiding her. I ran out of that meeting with the ghost of guilt and shame chasing me. We left the praise band, stopped working with the teenagers, dumped children’s church on someone else, and we were gone. My father, who was also the pastor of the church, was furious and hurt. And who could blame him? We had bailed on every aspect of our involvement in the church without notice, without saying goodbye, without anything. We just up and left leaving a trail of hurt, broken promises, and programs in shambles.
The guilt and shame at what we had done sat like acid in my stomach, slowly eroding my self-worth. Alex acted like it was the best thing we had ever done. He thought we were taken advantage of, used, because we were related to the pastor, claimed he was burned out, and he had enough. He couldn’t stand the politics of an aging, set-in-their-ways generation. Alex was tired of trying to make things work at my parents church. He wanted independence, change, a new church, and a new life. I saw it as running away, giving up, losing hope.
We met with my mother and father. My father wanted to discuss what we had done. I couldn’t look them in the eye. He pointed out how devastated the teenagers were at our abrupt departure. How could we do that to them? How could we do that to the church? Those kids looked up to us, trusted us. What would they do now? What about the programs we had started or were working with? Did we know how hurt my parents were? How hurt the church was? What would people think of us? I was mute with pain. This wasn’t my choice. It was Alex’s choice. I was the wife who had to go along with what he wanted. Couldn’t they see that? Alex got defensive, fighting for his decision, believing we were right in leaving. Words became heated between Alex and my father, neither willing to concede their side. It was the first time there was true tension and anger between the two of them. We left, my head hung in shame, Alex’s chest puffed with pride.
Alex found another church that was young, still using a commercial industrial building as a church until they found a permanent home. The church was called Hope, but to me, it felt more like Betrayal. Alex didn’t understand why I was so upset about how we left our earlier church. He admitted that maybe we should have done it a bit differently. You think? But it was done now. It was time to move on. Tell that to those we left picking up the pieces of our destruction.
The new church had a young adult group, people around our age. Alex was pretty excited. I was apprehensive and quiet. Right away, he joined the Men’s Bible Study group. We were invited to an informal dinner with the young adult group. The pastor asked Alex to sing special music and play the drums for the praise band. Alex was thrilled and dove right in. He couldn’t see that it was just like our old church with the responsibilities and involvement repeating itself. Weren’t we just setting ourselves up for burn-out and failure again? Although the difference now was Alex was King and I was in his shadow.