Liz Vasquez | Journey Church | Winter Park, FL
“I’ve decided I am leaving”
Oh how I dread those words. It’s the reason I didn’t want to start this church in the first place. How can I love someone who might one day decide they want to leave? Did I not spend enough time with them? Did I not love them enough? That’s it, I can’t love people. I am closing myself off. I don’t want to get hurt anymore. These are the thoughts that run through my mind when I am told that someone who we’ve poured so much of ourselves into, decides they want to leave our church. I know it’s so wrong and I can’t live thinking this way. So what do I do?
How do you love people without getting hurt? You don’t. It’s a part of love sometimes, embrace it, it’s good, it means you are capable of love.
As the wise Sheriff Hopper from Stranger Things (the best show on Netflix) once said, “When life hurts you, because it will, remember the hurt. The hurt is good. It means you’re out of that cave.” It means you haven’t curled up into a cave and grown cold, you care and that’s ok. It’s actually a good thing. That’s the reason why God asked you to start that church or work in that ministry in the first place. He knows you care. You have his heart. You love people and you hurt because you want them to be ok.
The better question is, how do I deal with this hurt?
You adjust your expectations.
The average life span of a dog is 10 to 13 years and even though we know our time with them is short lived, we still adopt them, care for them and love them into our family. Did you know that the average life span of a friendship is only 7 years? When I heard this, it blew my mind. It changed the way I saw my church friends and family. They will probably not be with us forever and that’s ok. I realized that I have to cherish every moment with them, love even if it might hurt and appreciate those who have been around long. If it doesn’t make it to 7, that’s ok, because most don’t. If it went longer, then wow, how blessed was I? We have to love people into our family even if they might one day decide it’s time for them to go.
People leave sometimes and we can’t take it personal. Sometimes people go because they get a job offer in another state and they’re moving and sometimes it’s because they’re upset. Either way God could be using whatever their situation good or bad to lead them into the next chapter of their lives and it’s not about us. God works in mysterious ways and we have to trust him.
You focus on the good and love those who are still there.
When I get sad because I’m focused on the one person who has decided that their time with us is over, I remember the countless others who on Sunday raised their hands and decided that their lives with God has just begun. I also remember the woman who came up to me after service one day with tears in her eyes saying, “ Thank you for starting this church, my husband and I were on the verge of divorce and since coming, we have found a new love for each other.” We can’t focus on the ones that are gone and forget the ones that are still with us. They need us to love on them.
You remember how He loves you
In John 15:12 Jesus says, “My command is this, Love each other as I have loved you.” How did he love us? He showed his love for us by dying on a cross. He might not be asking us to physically sacrifice our lives, but we have to be willing to open our hearts even when we know it’s going to hurt. He loved until it hurt and he is asking us to do the same.
So remember to keep close these two truths:
- Love will sometimes come with pain.
- Love is worth it.