When Leaving is a Positive Step

Eight months ago I left my small-town, home-church of 20 years for a mega-church 30 minutes away. It was painful & extremely difficult, but in the end, it was a necessary positive step in my life and my spiritual development. I’m still sorting out all of my feelings regarding the move & not everything is roses and daisies, but I have a peace in my decision.

I’m not sure I can fully convey the impact the move has had on me, or the thought process that went into making the decision to leave, without writing a novel; but it’s safe to say that I didn’t come through it unscathed.

Walking away from an institution that had been a foundational part of my life for so long was hard. I grew up in that church. I accepted Christ in that church. I first fell in love with Children’s Ministry in that church. I considered that church a part of my identity and changing your identity? That’s tough work.

But, eventually, I felt that I wasn’t growing in the church. That I was pouring out, but not filling up; and consequently, the quality that I poured out suffered greatly. My fuse became shorter. I started dreading going to church – needing the week to mentally prepare for Sunday instead of using Sunday to prepare for the week. And, I’m ashamed to say, I responded with much less than grace on more than one occasion.

I knew I needed a change – a church with a stronger/larger community of people going through a life-stage similar to mine, but I resisted. My church was home, after all. My church was familiar. I knew my church.

But, just like Jonah, the more I resisted, the more difficult it got – until finally I was forced to see it for what it was: time to move on.

My last night at my old church was bittersweet. It was the final awards ceremony for the Wednesday Night Awana program that I had led for the past 6 years & saying goodbye to those kids – the kids I had taught for the better part of a decade in Awana and other ministries – was the worst. It was a night full of tears and hugs and more tears. But it was also a night of peace.

As I turned in my keys and left the building for the last time, I was overcome with peace; peace in leaving; peace in trying somewhere new; and peace in the knowledge that even-though the leaving was difficult – it didn’t mean staying was right.

Now, eight-months later, I still don’t have it all together. I still don’t feel 100% at home in my new church, yet, I still feel that peace. Not all the kinks are worked out, but I know that I am one step closer to where God wants me to be. I’m making my way into a community where I can learn and serve; where I can grow; where I can be positively challenged.

Looking back, I can see that it’s the community, the growth potential, and the opportunity to feel challenged in my ministry that drew me away from one church and to another – and it’s these same things that can launch me towards success with my God-sized dream. In fact, for any goal, God-sized or bobby-pin sized, seeking out community, growth, and good challenges keeps momentum growing and makes plateaus bearable: something I doing my best to remember as I strive to grow my writing.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy. In fact, these three things are often the hardest for me. As a strong introvert, I’m not naturally inclined to seek out community – at all. However, time and time again, I’m seeing the stronger the community of support the stronger the end product: be it personal development or professional development. Which means, even though leaving my home church was hard; deciding to leave in order to seek out a stronger community of believers I could relate to was the right choice for me.

What about you? Have you had to leave the familiar for the new in order to experience a greater good? Do you feel like you’re being pulled away from the comfortable or are you struggling to stay? Perhaps you’re the opposite. Maybe you moved away from one thing only to find yourself longing to return? Whatever the case, I guarantee you are not alone. At some point, we all have to make difficult decisions to achieve our goals; decisions to take positive steps. Sometimes those steps are forward & sometimes those steps are backward – but we all have to take them, nonetheless. For after all,

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9 NIV)

photo credit


Each Tuesday, for the foreseeable future, I’m linking up with Holley and hundreds of other dreamers and blogging about my own God-sized Dream and the steps I’m taking to make it a reality. Click the button to read posts of other dreamers.


4 thoughts on “When Leaving is a Positive Step

  1. Mel says:

    I admire your courage…it IS difficult to leave the known and familiar even when you completely trust that God will work it out for good. My husband and I went through something similar when we left our church to move overseas…but God continued to pour on His blessings, even if it wasn’t always easy. Praying blessings on you as you get to know your new church community and find places to serve! 🙂


    • Emily says:

      Thanks so much, Mel! The familiar can be such a rut that leaving it sometimes equates to re-setting a broken bone: necessary & painful but best for the overall health of the body. Praying for you and your husband as you continue your ministry. 🙂


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