Christmas Sunday, 2012, we had just left our home church of 20 years and we were sitting in the back row of a church where our close friend was the lead pastor. We were hurt and broken. We arrived just early enough to drop our kids off in class and secure back row seats, but not so early that we'd have to talk much. It was such a strange feeling, on this busy Sunday, to sit with no responsibilities, no tasks, no one to catch up with. We were edgy - we felt we should be doing something. But we stood for worship, sat for service, picked up our kids, and then left, with barely any conversation.
You look at things differently when you're in ministry. You count the number of people in the room. You notice what software they use to run their worship slides. You see the light that is burnt out and needs replaced. You read the bulletin critically (plus, I'm an editor, so I look for typos as a past time). You analyze the announcements. It's hard to turn off "ministry mode." It's hard to not jump up when something needs done.
We spent almost a full year sitting in that back row. We were welcomed by amazing people. They embraced us, but gave us the space we needed. Eventually, we shared our story. My husband became involved - leading worship, helping on teams, preaching periodically. I remained in the back row - no responsibility except dropping my kids off at their classes. I worshiped and cried many Sundays. I healed in that back row. It was an oasis in our desert. A place to quench our thirst.
I am so thankful for that row - that church - that community. It was good to rest - to attend church - and to just "be." As hard as that year was, I see now that it was an important part of our journey. We needed the rest. We needed the time to process and heal. And we needed to be ready for where God was taking us. We didn't know where, and we didn't know when, but we knew that God had plans for us back in ministry.