Monday, August 5, 2013

From Ruin to Redemption

Yesterday I got to preach at church about Naomi's journey from ruin to redemption.  You can watch the service here.  As Beth Stoddard, Creative Arts Director, and I planned the service via Google chat last Monday, it was clear that God was at work.  He gave Beth and me a unified vision of what the service would look and feel like.  A talented team of musicians and a young actress I'm very fond of pulled off our vision with passion and humility.  God worked in and through us yesterday, and that's a mysterious honor that continues to surprise me.

In the past 24 hours, I've heard from lots of people.  The support and encouragement have been overwhelming, and I thank you.  The stories of hurt, grief, and bitterness have burdened my heart, and I am grateful for being entrusted with them.  Yesterday I got to hug a girl who was bitter toward me; we both cried, and redemption was realized.  I got to hug my friend, Lori, and finally try to thank her for the difference she made in my life.  

Yesterday, I made a couple passing statements that I'd like to highlight now:
My family passionately and protectively stuck with me.  Some of the people who still do ministry with me every week stuck with me each of those painful weeks, too.  But I wasn’t available to them.  I wasn’t much of a friend, a wife or a mom, a leader or a pastor. 

Of all the emotional statements I made yesterday, that last sentence was the most painful.  The people I love the most were hurt, neglected, and taken for granted while I wallowed in bitterness.  I'll never get that time back, and I regret that deeply.  I don't know that I'll ever speak publicly about how the trouble at work affected the other areas of my life, but the damage was significant.

My family passionately and protectively stuck with me.  My parents, my sister, and my husband listened to more than their fair share of venting.  Their support was persistent.  At one time, I could only walk into church with my sister on one side and my husband on the other, serving as a human shield.  

I've written before about how competitive I am.  When I was called the most competitive woman my boss had ever met, I responded with, "That's because you don't know my sister very well."  My competitive sister channeled that drive into protecting me.  She did so defensively, and she went on the offense, too, putting her own status at church on the line for my sake.  

My husband took the brunt of it.  He lived every day with a woman who was nothing like the one he'd dated, fallen in love with, or married.  He stayed faithful to me and was steadfast in his commitment to me, even when coming home to me was dreadful.  When he thought I was in real trouble, he sought help for me, too.  Of all the comments about my message yesterday, his meant the most.  He's never been as proud of me as he was yesterday.

Some of the people who still do ministry with me every week stuck with me each of those painful weeks, too.  Without Angie Sposa, Jackie Heberle, Aimee Krueger, and Mandy James, I would not be at PCC today.  That's not exaggeration or over-statement; it's simply fact.  Those women found a way to be both faithful to PCC and to me, which at the time, was like rooting for both the Redskins and the Cowboys.  They loved me, believed in me, advocated for me, and advocated for student ministry--the God-given passion that unites us beyond anything else.  

My family and the women above joined Lori in seeing me through from ruin to redemption. 

Yesterday, someone thanked me for staying at PCC.  Thank Sammy, Mandy, the other Angie, Jackie, Aimee, and my parents.  Thank the small group I've written about before--the ones who are now seniors in college, working, and in the military.  During the years of bitterness I spoke of yesterday, a counselor I respect and admire told me to leave PCC; it was damaging me.  (Apparently night terrors are a bad sign.)  I couldn't leave that small group, so I planned to leave when they graduated.  But by the time they graduated, I was moving from ruin to redemption, and I stayed to see it through.

I am redeemed.

3 comments:

  1. Glad you didn't sever ties. I put in my notice when I was disappointed, angry, and hurt. I still think I was wronged but wish I'd walked away differently.

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  2. It means a lot to those of us in the "pews" looking up, to see the humility and the reality of the church leaders like yourself. I've been an outsider at churches for many years because everyone put up a facade of being perfect. How would I look to God as a broken, dirty vessel standing beside all of these perfect specimens of outstanding repute? It takes a special type of courage to admit that there's a bit of duct tape in your life. Thank you for your inspiring example of courage, Ms Angie. After all, even heroes have the right to bleed, right? :)

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  3. Brandee, in seminary, Dr. Sherman taught us to stay until things got better. Sometimes that's not an option, but I now see the wisdom in his words when it's at all possible.

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