Leaving the familiar

I remember as a little girl when my father was contemplating assuming the role of music leader in a neighboring community church. I was too young to know all of the discussions that took place, but one I do remember was when my parents talked to me about this possibility which would mean we had to attend another church. I probably didn't respond the way they had hoped. I remember having a pouty expression and saying "No, I don't want to go. All my friends are here."

Though attending another Baptist church was probably not a huge deal in the larger scheme of life, it seemed like a really big deal to me at the time. Why would I want to leave all my friends at church and go somewhere new where I didn't know anyone or anything? The church we were going to was familiar and comfortable. Who would want to leave comfortable?

Now that I'm older and of course understand things a little more (hopefully), I realize that this exact scenario is faced by countless families in ministry. My heart goes out to those who are the spouses and families of ministers because often times they have to leave the comfortable and familiar as well when they don't really want to. Certainly these situations can turn out to be wonderful learning and growing experiences and possibly result in bringing families closer together and meeting new lifelong friends. However, even if for a short time, transition to the unknown can be quite uncomfortable and stressful.

Several months ago I visited a retreat center in Colorado called Sonscape to learn more about what they do and who they serve. Sonscape exists to offer those in ministry rest, renewal and real life change. I had a wonderful conversation with the retreat leaders and found them to be genuine, understanding and full of compassion. These couples have worked with thousands of struggling ministry couples and listened to countless stories of joy and pain experienced in ministry. They too have served in churches and experienced some of the same joys and pains. It is for this reason that I have invited the spouses to share some of their insights gleaned from both being spouses of ministers themselves and working with spouses going through tough times. So I invite you to see what God might be sharing with you through the thoughts and lives of these genuine hearts.

By Katie Swafford, director of the Texas Baptists Counseling Service. As a Licensed Professional Counselor, she provides a confidential, caring ear willing to listen to ministers' issues and help them walk through the stressors and pressures they face. She also offers expertise and a network of resources to help ministers know how to approach certain counseling situations in their efforts to care for their congregations. For more information on Texas Baptists Counseling Services, contact Katie at katie.swafford@texasbaptists.org.

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