On Influence, Division, and Letting Go Before You’re Ready

by | Oct 18, 2012 | Uncategorized

My teenage daughter set her alarm before the cock crows on Saturday for a yard sale. I overslept.

It isn’t the picture frames and candle holders that pull Murielle out of bed on a day she normally slumbers until it’s time for a chicken salad sandwich and a Coke. It’s the relationship with her youth leader. She’s having the sale in preparation to move to Pennsylvania with her family.

It’s worth shivering on a driveway of Barbies and cribs with an empty stomach, to savor the moments with someone who believes in you.

Four years ago we bumped into Sayward on our first trek through the church before our moving van arrived.  All the worry about my middle school girl navigating new pavement melted off as I watched genuine eye contact through a smile of wide-eyed enthusiasm.  She painted a vibrant student ministry, elusive to us thus far.

We arrived expectant. Look back thankful.

Because alongside the thirty hour famine, car washes, weekly times of worship, beach days, early breakfasts, one on one lunches, summer camps and mission trips, we witnessed the heart of our child grow from a spectator of Christ, to a pilgrim travelling the dusty road.

Yesterday Murielle and I navigated foil covered casserole and green beans around the pod plunked in Sayward’s driveway, up the stairs through a toy strewn living room to the kitchen.  Her husband doesn’t cook but he wears a badge, and plays horsey on the floor with the kids while she starts a new job a few states away.

In two weeks we’ll wave goodbye to the leader who greeted us with a handshake of hope and an invitation to a pool party. And we’ll let go of her weekly influence at the church, the cousin we visit occasionally after the family split up.

Murielle sits on the couch with her laptop researching airfare to Pittsburgh. And I wonder why it takes the absence of someone to realize their value.

Perhaps it’s why Christ left the earth.

Have you experienced letting go of someone of great influence in your life or the lives of your loved ones?

This is #18 in the series 31 Days of Letting Go. You can read the collective here. If you are a writer, I invite you to link up any post you’ve written on the theme of letting go in the comments here on Friday. Subscribe to receive the series in your inbox or feed by adding your address in the side bar under Follow Redemptions Beauty.

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  1. Lynn Morrissey

    What wonderful saints youth leaders are! I can remember what we did to our leader in our cabin at youth camp after she fell asleep–toothpaste everywhere–stuff like that! Like I said, what a saint! 🙂 Your daughter is so fortunate to have had such a marvelous leader and a mother who encourages other relationships for her children. And yes, sometimes we really appreciate people when they leave…..and it’s a good reminder to savor every moment while we have them. Sayward…..neat name!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’m so grateful for her influence on Murielle’s life. She’s been doing youth ministry for over ten years at the church. She will be missed by our family.

  2. Sherrey Meyer

    A church family is so fortunate when strong youth leaders are present! And yes, we’ve recently said goodbye to one of our co-pastors. Since we’ve been attending this church, we’ve enjoyed the privilege of a husband/wife ministry team. But funds are scarce these days, and the pastor husband graciously offered to step down this year to help our finances meet the budget. Both of them are good pastors, but he was such a good explainer and revealer of Scripture, and he was caring and compassionate man. The sadness if that our church’s polity won’t allow him to attend services with us because they feel it might be tempting to some members to seek him out for guidance, etc. We will miss him so much but we admire his courage and grace in this time of economic stress.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Good leadership is the key to a healthy church community for sure. When it isn’t good, it’s toxic and devastating. Thankful that you have experienced the former and I do understand how hard it is to let go of someone who reveals the truth of scripture in a way that is life giving.

  3. Judy

    Not a story about saying good-bye to someone of Christian influence – rather a reflection filled with gratitude, on a young Bible Study leader who took on a dozen high energy Grade 8 boys who required both patience and firmness, and met with them for two hours every week of the school years through to the end of Grade 12 – snack and chat time for 15 minutes, games for 45 minutes, Bible study for 45 minutes and prayer for 15. Mid-summer after school was completed, he asked those same boys, now young men steeped in Scripture, to be the ushers for his wedding! Two years on, two of them are Bible Study leaders for boys in the younger grades at the same church, two have spent/are spending a year at overseas Bible colleges, and two are half a continent away, studying at different secular universities where they are helping to lead campus ministries and are actively involved in the youth work of local churches in their respective churches. What a legacy that now 26 year old, volunteer youth assistant already has.
    (I know all this because my son was blessed to be one of those young men.)
    My daughter is now in Grade 10, and has had as her leader for the past two and half years, a young woman, studying for her doctorate in science, who has made the same kind of voluntary commitment to a group of girls.
    Wise and godly youth leaders are invaluable treasures in the church – thank you Shelly for reminding us.

    • Judy

      Oops! ‘respective cities’ not respective churches’

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Oh Judy, I LOVE this story. It’s a testament to the influence one person can have on young, impressionable people in need of a Saviour. My heart swells with thankfulness as I read your words. Wow! And so glad one of those happened to be your son. You experience is why I’m sad actually. I know the difference it makes to have a leader like this during those middle and highschool years and we are without that now.

  4. richelle @ "our wright"-ing pad

    oh… letting go is such a part of our lives – as expats, missos, parents raising tcks. in fact, it might just be the hardest thing we face. it is even harder to watch our kiddos walk that road – hear the little one squeal with joy when she sees their old hilux because she doesn’t completely understand that the truck was sold and belongs to someone else… that america and africa are still a really long way aways from each other.

    these words: “…I wonder why it takes the absence of someone to realize their value. Perhaps it’s why Christ left the earth.”

    powerful thought.

    i’m truly enjoying and appreciating your 31 days series each time i have the opportunity to look in.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Richelle, so glad you reading along. You contribute a richness to the conversation here.

  5. pruningprincesses

    I’ve said good-bye to such people. But having one of them in my daughters’ lives would be worth ten good-byes!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      We can’t even put a value on it, can we Laura?

  6. Jillie

    Yes Shelly…I once had to say “good-bye” to a wonderful Associate Pastor/Biblical Counsellor. He helped me immensely at a time when my sister was going through her second separation/divorce. I was terrified that it ran in the family, because, in many ways, my sister and I are alike. He counselled me for a few months and got to the root of many of my fears, using the Word of God—the ONLY way to truly help someone. When he left, I cried and cried. He was the kind of preacher who didn’t flower-up the Word, and he preached from his gut. He said hard things to our church, and some people didn’t like that. Thought he was a ‘downer’. But I wanted the Word that cuts to the marrow. Since then, he has left the ministry. I mourn that. But thank you for the wonderful account of your daughter and her youth Pastor. There’s a bond that won’t ever be broken.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      So glad you had that pastor for the season in which God set aside for healing in your life Jillie. It is a good process to go back and remember those in our lives that played a pivotal role in our growth and development and thank Him again. I know how much it has meant to my husband and I to receive notes from people in our past that have thanked us for things we had completely forgotten about. So thanking those people can be a gift to them also.

  7. wynnegraceappears

    I grieve the changes and the division. My heart aches with grieving. Spencer cried as she embraced Sayward on Sunday. Her influence and work her marked this community with service and love. I sense she will remain in this place for a long long time, with visits and influence.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I’m not sure about the visits but her influence with remain in the lives where the investment yields a harvest. And division is rarely a good thing I’m afraid. It makes my heart sorrowful on so many levels.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      It was for me too when it came to mind. 🙂

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