All the Feels
August 29, 2023
Back when I was a layperson, I joined a small church in Los Angeles while they had an interim pastor. That’s a dangerous thing to do, because you will be asked to join the search committee (ha!). I remember one of the members getting up and talking about transition as the time between the trapeze artist releasing one bar and grabbing onto the next. There is fear, excitement, a sense of danger, and also of great hope. That image has always stayed with me. I have shared that image with some of you before. I am now on my fourth lead pastor transition since that one, not to mention all of the other life transitions I’ve experienced. Each time, I remember the feelings of the trapeze artist mid-air. All of those feelings are absolutely valid and absolutely allowed to co-exist during times of transition in our lives. Experiencing more than one emotion at a time is part of being human. I also know that I have survived and thrived through every one of those transitions thus far and every life transition (and those have been way more frightening!). I will again. You will again, even if it doesn’t feel that way to you right now.
Psalm 56:8 says, “You yourself have kept track of my misery. Put my tears into your bottle— aren’t they on your scroll already?”
When Zephaniah is talking about the restoration of Jerusalem, he says, “The Lord will create calm with God’s love; the Lord will rejoice over you with singing.” -Zephaniah 3:17
In the midst of transition and all of the accompanying feelings, God is there. God is in the midst of our tears, in the midst of our anxiety, and in the midst of our hope and joy! When you are in transition, remember that all your feelings are important, no matter how uncomfortable. Notice them. Feel them. Thank them for reminding you that your life is beautiful and full and complex! Letting ourselves experience the full range of emotions helps us process and prepare to act. When I fail to fully acknowledge those uncomfortable feelings, I will act out of them instead of acting out of my values. I will self-destruct instead of creating a safe environment for me and those I love during change. If the trapeze artist were to act out of their fear, they would likely fall. I hope that in your life’s transitions, you will always feel safe to feel your feelings, even to share those feelings with a friend or pastor, and then to act calmly, with hope and bravery.
As a church community in transition, I would bet there is a wide range of feelings right now. However you feel about preparing to welcome and interim pastor and eventually a new settled lead pastor, you are allowed to have those feelings. You are allowed to feel fear, excitement, a sense of danger, and also of great hope. You are allowed to share your feelings with others in honesty and vulnerability. Together, we will move calmly, with hope and bravery into the beautiful future God has waiting for us!