earlier today, i wrote a final email to the community that my ministry is in, reflecting briefly on the past almost-five years, thanking them for serving alongside me (albeit virtually, since we’re all in different fields), and saying goodbye. it was a bittersweet email to write, but i did it.
and then i went into our office bathroom, sat on the toilet, and shed quiet tears for about a full minute.
nobody ever tells you there would be grief in leaving a ministry.
if you had asked me last year how i felt about handing over this role (as the short-term missions coordinator for our field), i would have said, “great. i seriously cannot wait. SRSLY.” but that’s because after these few years, i was burnt out, exhausted, and just not doing well. all i could think about was all the sleep i lost in the past few years. all the frustrations that could never really be shared about. all the hurt from people putting down support work (what my role was considered). all the advice people kept giving me but who could never fully understand the extent of how complicated the role was. not to mention, all my body functions that started shutting down – mentally, physically, emotionally, and yes, even spiritually, the longer i was in this role.
i secretly (and selfishly) used to hope that Jesus would return because heaven felt like my only safe place.
i thought i was so ready to finish my involvement in this ministry.
and yet here i am today, remembering the bitter, but also remembering the sweet. i would not have thought about the fact that i would be putting behind me, four and a half years of my life, spent learning, living, (literally) bleeding, and breathing this ministry that God allowed me to serve in. it became a part of me that was inseparable from who i am as a person, as a christian, as a missionary. He taught me how to be content & at peace with being a nobody in ministry, in missions. to be faithful in what He has given me to work with, no matter how big or how small. in many ways, God used it to further shape my outlook on missions, mobilisation, church partnerships, frontline vs. support ministry, and missions discipleship…among other things as well. God also allowed me to be a part of various peoples’ lives, walking with them in their own missions journey, praying with them, and encouraging them. all of those things are what made this ministry a joy to be a part of.
it was also a testament to God’s saving grace in my life – He showed me not only who i am, but even more so on days that were not good, in frustrating moments in ministry – who i would be without Him. and that wasn’t a pretty sight. haha. i can’t even begin to tell you how many nights i went to bed so frustrated that i cried myself to sleep.
but now my time with this ministry on a formal level is over. i am relieved, i am thankful, i am at peace, and i am content.
relieved that i can finally hand this ministry over.
thankful that God let me be a part of it the past few years, and for the many things He taught me.
at peace with how He will continue to use and move this ministry – His ministry – forward.
content with how God led me, and continues to lead me towards the future.
as a missionary, i’ve learned to say hellos and goodbyes to people, places, and things. but ministry has always felt like it’s just there, waiting for you when you get back from your hellos and goodbyes. it seems silly, but i never thought that i’d be farewelling ministry – not ministry in general, but this particular ministry that i likely will not return to again in the future. ministry often has it’s highs and lows, but to actually leave that ministry feels so jarring. so in that sense, even ministry is not constant. only God remains constant through all of life’s goodbyes.
God is good. there is grief, but there is joy. everything is going to be alright. maybe not today…but eventually.