Tim and his wife, Christy, left Dallas to start a church plant in Ohio. Four years of seminary, loading up a truck and three years later they were living their dream as they led Sanctuary—a congregation focused on authenticity and meeting people wherever they were. When the economy collapsed and the plants shut down, they lost their church, their house, and their jobs all within six weeks forcing them to move back to Dallas to find work and leaving them wondering why they embarked on the adventure at all.We grow up being taught to follow our dreams. Not long after our wedding, Christy and I had talked about moving back to my adopted hometown in Ohio and creating a unique type of ministry. Though it only lasted a couple of years, Sanctuary was a source of a lot of growth and shaping. It was also the crucible that refined my beliefs and passions. I wrote in my blog before we left: I'm ready. I'm ready to leave. I've cycled through my recriminations. I've vented my anger. I've grieved. I've accepted that some will look at me as a failure because Sanctuary didn't take off. I'm ready to go.
In truth I was ready to go, but I wasn't ready to LET GO. After the initial shock of the sudden and traumatic transition wore off, I found myself doubting my decisions more and more. To expand, when Christy and I first knew we were going to close the church plant, lose our jobs, short sell our house, and move back to Dallas in 2007, I still felt certain that I had made the right decision to move to Ohio. However, as time went along and the financial and emotional impacts became clearer, my certainty eroded. I also found I was more hurt, confused, and at times bitter over how the transition affected Christy more than how it affected me. By 2010, I felt that the whole church planting thing (and vocational church ministry as a whole) was a horrible mistake. But, once I hit that bottom, I was able to look at everything more objectively. With time and space, I believe it truly was the right thing to do. With that, it became time to find out who I was going to be post-Ohio, and thus began a new journey of asking, learning, dreaming, and becoming.
Fast forward to 2012. I'm a project manager by day, but I have reconnected to the inner musician that was so passionate about performing during my music major days in college. I play with a band on the weekends. I released my first CD, 80% of which is material that I wrote. Christy and I just moved into a new house, and we are starting to dream again about July 4th barbecues, a large table of family and friends on Thanksgiving, and resuming our long delayed quest to adopt children. I guess in some ways, my dreams have changed, but in other ways, they’ve just been reawakened. In retrospect, I’ve found that the old cliché of “getting back on the horse” right away is not always the best idea. It hurts more than it helps. It’s far better to disconnect, reestablish personal equilibrium, then make a conscious, well-reasoned decision as to whether or not you want, need, or even should get back on the horse. Once we arrived back in Dallas, both Christy and I thought that the quickest way to recovery was to immerse ourselves in things that were familiar and to try to recover as much of what was lost as possible as quickly as possible. In truth, that was only a band aid over an open wound. I can say that we delayed our healing process by a couple of years as a result.
Now, I tend to look at life with much of the same risk analysis perspective that I use in project management. I look at things and try to consider all the possible outcomes, and to avoid situations with the highest risk. If I do pursue the track of highest risk, I try to take steps that minimize the impact should the worst case scenario come up. Some might call that pessimism; I call it discernment. It’s good to be positive, but it’s wise to understand the implications of a decision, good and bad.
I'm not the only one who has chased a dream and found it didn't take me to where I thought I would go. In a world that is constantly changing, we need the ability to stop, be still, and be aware. Many “abrupt” life changes really aren’t that abrupt. There are warning signs, but we are moving at such a high speed through life, that we miss them.
© Cathy Hutchison 2012