What I will post below (after the italicized part) is something I wrote back in February of this year when I was stepping down from a staff position at my church. I only shared it via email with family, a few close friends and a few people at my church that were an instrumental part of the story.
Writing is a huge part of my relationship with the Lord. Before I post something on my blog, “for the world to see,” I pray about whether it is something that He wants me to share.
In February, God did not want me to share this writing. For one thing, it was way too long for a blog post (my posts are already way too long…I know…but I am not out to attract a huge readership. My blog is just a place to share my heart with friends)
I only post things on here when I feel the Holy Spirit tell me, ‘Holly, post what you wrote today, because I am going to use it to speak to someone who will read it.’ For whatever reason, the Holy Spirit did not prompt me to post this back in February.
At the end of this month, I will officially be stepping down from a staff position at my church. I have the privilege of supervising a staff of over 50 childcare workers. On any given week through my job, I minister to well over 200 families through the childcare ministry I supervise.
In the past week I have had more people than I can count ask me ‘Why are you stepping down?’ My answer has been ‘because it is God’s timing.’ But I really wanted to share with each of them the BIGGER story that answers this question.
I wanted to make it clear that though I am stepping down, I have loved leading the staff I supervise. The absolute hardest part of my decision was that I will miss serving with my team each week. My prayer is that they will continue to work with the same perseverance and excellence that they have in the time that I have been honored to lead them.
I wanted to make it clear to the families I have ministered to, that I have counted it an honor for God to use me to love on their children while they are in Community Groups and serving in other areas of the church.
Finally, I wanted to make it clear that I LOVE my church. At my church, The Church at BattleCreek, I have finally been able to live out a calling that God placed on my heart when I was a child. I am very humbled that they would allow me the honor of being a part of their church staff. God has used people at The Church at BattleCreek to heal my wounded heart, and this leads me to share with you the ‘longer answer’ to the question of ‘Why are you stepping down?’
So now is the time to share the ‘why’ in more detail.
You can thank me in advance. I will break it into parts or this blog would set records for word length.
The following was written in February of this year….
Hello. My name is Holly. And….. I am a PK. That is easy for me to say these days. However, there was a time in my life when that was something I was hesitant to admit about myself. In my childhood to be tagged a ‘PK’ was often an insult. We all knew the ‘stereotypical’ preacher’s kid. . .the kid who always acted like a wild child in church classes and at school, yet all the adults in the child’s life were too intimidated to let their parents (the preacher and his wife) know about it. Therefore, the cycle of wildness continued and often ended in moral or spiritual disaster in the teenage or college years.
That is not my story. I am proud to say that is not the story of either of my siblings either. Instead our stories are quite the opposite. Though our parents were by no means perfect, they provided a home filled with love AND boundaries. Everything that was done and said in our home growing up was expected to line up with the Word of God. Our home was not guided by the rules, it was guided by love. . . the love of Jesus which provided rules with grace.
Though I did not grow up in a ‘perfect’ home, when people ask me about my childhood I often respond, “I grew up in a glass house, that was padded inside with lots of love.” On top of that, I grew up in the absolute most loving and supportive church family who partnered with my parents to use the Word of God to mold me and my siblings into children and eventually adults who follow after Christ with every ounce of our beings.
In fact, if I were to list the heartaches I experienced as a child, I would be embarrassed because they pale in comparison to the tragedies many children face in their childhoods. In high school and college I can remember going to conferences and hearing ‘amazing’ sinner to saint testimonies and wishing in the back of my mind that my testimony was more exciting.
What I did not know at the time was that my parents and church family were giving me the solid foundation of the truth of the Bible that would be essential for me to make it through my twenties without turning my back on the God of my childhood.
It was as if, like in the story of Job, Satan went to the throne room of God and said, “Let me have her for a decade. I think we will find that she is not the God lover that everyone has thought she was her entire life. Of course she loves You. You have been protecting her from heartache and trials her entire life”
The scene of my life changed. No longer was the backdrop a padded glass house. Those on stage with me were not my loving parents and church family. It was if those who were so instrumental in writing the story line of my childhood were asked to step off stage and watch my life from a distance.
Enter pain and struggle stage left. Enter heartache and disappoint stage right. The storyline took a dramatic turn. No longer would my life story be one of a small town PK who was protected from the arrows of pain and heartache of the Evil One.
Instead, the next decade of my was filled with life circumstances that brought me to my knees and for the first times in my life I found myself crying out to God, “Where are you?” “Why don’t you take this pain away?” “I have faithfully served you my entire life. How could this be my reward?”
In those years, my story included being diagnosed at age 20 with an incurable debilitating condition that forced me to change my career plans and even drove me, a straight A student, to the depths of depression to where I almost gave up on college all together. You can read about that time in my life here.
Then at age 21 I found myself engaged to a man who I thought was my prince charming, the husband I had prayed for my entire life. However, this too resulted in pain and heartache when just two months before I was supposed to walk down the aisle, it was revealed to me that indeed he was not the man of God he had convinced me he was. It had all been deception. He had been living a double life and had fooled all my family and friends. Most wouldn’t even believe the details of the story if I told them. You can read about that time in my life here.
These two trials caused me to reexamine my life and God led me to follow a call on my life to go to seminary. At age 24 I found myself once again engaged. This time to my amazing husband, Joe, who I met the very first day I set foot on the seminary campus. I wrote about that day here.
In the back of my mind I thought that surely now that my life was on the course of full-time ministry, I would return to the protected life I once knew.
Instead, in the first six years of our marriage, a marriage we offered up to God for his service, it seemed that we were plagued with more pain and more heartache.
A week after our wedding we had family members who severed ties with us for getting married.
We lost our first three babies to miscarriage.
We often found ourselves literally emptying the piggy bank just so we could pay a bill and stay on the path of ministry to which God had called us.
Then it finally happened. Joe had landed his first full-time job as a children’s pastor. Surely now that we had been faithful to prepare ourselves educationally and held fast to our faith through the heartache and pain, God would bless us with protection.
To be continued …..