August 2, 2019 brought with it a significant ending for me.
About 8 weeks earlier, I had decided to resign from a job that I had been at for almost 11 years. It was a place that was the one constant in my life during a long season of change that saw me transition through single motherhood, finding my feet in a new country, establishing a home for my children and myself, putting down roots, falling in love, getting re-married, having a baby and going back into part time study. It came with responsibility, trust, opportunities for immense growth, the permission to explore areas of ministry that suited my gifts and passions well and an encouragement to continue to pursue a sacred romance with my creator, father and best friend, everyday. Making the choice to leave was one of the hardest decisions I have wrestled with.
I wish I could say that God gave me the permission to leave in a blinding moment of clarity, in a thunderous voice or the quietest of whispers. I wish I could say that God closed one door and opened another. It was one of things that dawned on me gradually and quietly. It was feeling that somehow the skin I was in did not feel like home anymore. It was a foggy vision akin to fog on the water on the fateful night when the Titanic hit the iceberg; of a ship, changing course, slowly, steadily but with definite certainty. The decision to step out of my skin parted the fog, gifting me with a vision of freedom, a new season and the promise although unseen for the moment, of the things to come.
I was the last one to leave my workplace that Friday. Everyone that I had journeyed with, and come to care for so deeply, had long gone home after lingering hugs, tears and the promise to catch up soon. My heart felt a bit tattered and nostalgia flooded my soul. It felt as if in that last hour…. life slowed down. The space around me took on a life of it’s own. The sounds of the creaking windows and the rattling of the tin roof above me, wrapped around me like a well worn winter cloak at dusk. A movie reel of the last decade of my life there began to play in slow motion in my mind’s eye. I glimpsed the uncertainty of a brand new employee, the support of an amazing boss, the creativity of an incredibly gifted colleague, the journey of implementing the mission of that workplace and watching it come to fruition, the mistakes made and lessons learned, the relationships formed along the way, the best of the best events we had planned and run and memories made in the process, the passing of dear colleagues and the team changes that occurred over time. I also caught sight of the hard times that worked themselves out over time. The final pictures of the movie reel were the smiling faces of everyone that I currently worked with, who contribute in incredible ways to God’s vineyard.
As I moved from room to room, ensuring lights were turned off and the doors shut behind me, I realized that I held in my hand the one thing that went everywhere with me over the past decade – my keys. Walking towards the final door knowing that I would have to leave my keys behind caused a moment of panic for me – a cold fear, that I was closing a door to a place… a season that I was losing access to, forever. I paused, let go of the keys, walked toward that self-locking door and passed through it. My hands lingered one final time on the handle of the door as it slowly and finitely clicked into place, shutting itself in a final act of closure. As I walked away I was filled with a sense of deep peace and reassurance, the promise of a vision for tomorrow and a reminder that I had chosen to use the key to close the door behind me.
Keys come with responsibilities, possibilities and opportunities. Keys also come with the power that enables us to make decisions to either close or open doors.
When Peter declared Christ as “The Messiah and the Son of the Living God” …..Jesus blessed him with “Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 16:13:20). I am no Peter! But I trust that Christ gives us keys to the seasons of life ahead of us in an invitation to step forward in faith and close the doors of the past behind us.