So I might as well start from the beginning.
5 and a half years ago, my brother and I went to a church called Oasis for the first time. On the way there I remember both of us saying that for the first time in our lives we were actually excited to be going to church. I remember listening to the pastor thinking "where did this guy come from? I've never heard this stuff before." For the first time in my life, I felt something inside of me stir, and the two and a half years that followed, I felt my spirit come to life. I realized what it meant to follow Christ. That he wasn't just some guy that died on a cross for his friends 2,000 years ago; He's God, He's my Father, He loves me more then anyone else ever has and ever will, and He is to be Honored. I could go on and on telling you all the things I learned sitting in that church for the two, very short, and precious years that I did, but that would make for a ridiculously long blog.
Fast forward to Sunday March 4th 2007. That Sunday was different. For the fist time in two and a half years I didn't feel challenged or convicted. I sat there wondering if it was something I was doing wrong. Was I not listening? Was I off in another world somewhere? But when church was drawing to an end, the pastor praying and the worship team quietly playing in the background, I saw something I'd never seen before. I saw my pastor fall to his knees, and felt something in me become tense. I realized later that that tension was like a buzzer sounding off to warn me that something terribly wrong was about to happen.
Two day's later I was told what is possibly the hardest news I've ever heard. I was told that my pastor had confessed to his wife that he had been unfaithful to her.
I hardly spoke for two days. I went right to my room and put on one of the sermons he had taught, and I prayed it wasn't true. I begged God to tell me it wasn't true. For the first time in my life I can say I was truly heartbroken. I felt like something inside of me had been ripped out. Ripped out with so much force, that I didn't know how I would be able to go on.
The next night I went to my youth group in the hopes of being able to cry with and lean on the rest of my church family, who would no doubt be just as heartbroken as me. But I couldn't find one person who looked even the slightest bit shaken. I was so confused. Didn't they care? Hadn't they heard? Were the leaders going to tell us that night? What was going to happen? I sat in small group very quietly. Just waiting for some sign that I wasn't the only broken person sitting there. It wasn't until we did prayer requests that I found someone who shared in my pain. When my small group leader was asked what her prayer request was, she answered: "I'm heartbroken. My whole world has been turned upside down this week." My feelings exactly. When I got home that night, I went to the salsa kitchen to be alone. I fell against the door and slid to the floor and wept. All I could do was ask God why. I must have asked a hundred times. When I was finally able to wipe the tears from my eyes and look up, I was given the answer to my question. I looked up to find the name of the company that made the 100 gallon bowl that we used for making salsa welded to the side of the bowl that I was facing. The name of the company is Groen.
Growing. That was the answer I was given. The pain and heartache was so I could grow. It was so God could bring me closer to himself. And with that, I was okay...more or less. It wasn't that the hole that had been ripped through me was any smaller; it wasn't that my heart was any less broken. It was that I knew God was still there. It was that I knew he hadn't abandoned me.
When I walked into church that Sunday I looked for my pastor...but I never found him. I wanted so badly to find him and tell him how sorry I was. To tell him that I had forgiven him the very instant I'd heard what happened. To give him a hug and tell him how much I loved him. But he was nowhere to be found. I was never given the chance to say those things to him. Due to the way him and his family were pushed out of town and not aloud to come speak with all of us, I didn't get to say goodbye. That hurt. And for three years I've hated going to church. I've sat and listened, and never been told anything new. Never been challenged. For three years I've felt homeless. And more then anything else, I've missed my church and my pastor so desperately.
Fast forward 3 years to May 7th 2010.
I finally got to see my pastor and his family again. I got to hug them and tell them how much I've missed them. How much I love them. I got to tell my old pastor that I forgave him, that I had never been angry with him for even a second. I can't express how awesome and yet heart wrenching it was to look across the room and see him and his Amazing wife standing there. It was awesome because I was seeing and talking with them for the first time in such a long time, and heart wrenching because all I wanted to do was find some way to go back in time. All I wanted was to find some way to bring them back, to have him be my pastor again, to have Oasis back. And knowing that I can't....is almost to much to bare.
To be honest, I didn't know how much it was going to hurt to see them again. I didn't realize that it was going to force me to realize how much I've missed them. Not that I'd forgotten, but I'd developed a nice shell of numbness. I'd gotten pretty good at pushing the pain of missing them, as far away from me as I could. I'd gotten pretty good at ignoring the heartache that is still very much alive and well. And now it's as if the scab has been ripped off.
But even though it hurt to have that scab ripped away, I got to see my pastor again. And words cannot express how much joy that gives me. I can't even believe how blessed I am to have been able to spend some time last night and some of today with him and his family. I was shocked to find out that they actually remembered me. ME of all people. I can't explain what a blessing this weekend has been. They even gave me and LeeAnne their address and phone numbers and sincerely invited us to come visit them at anytime. I wish I could explain how truly amazing they are. I wish I could explain how much I love them. But I don't think I could do it justice.