Drastic Changes

Dear Jenn,

It's been a long time since we last talked, but with all that is going on in my life, I felt I should catch you up on the latest developments. If memory serves me correctly, you went through something similar some years ago, so I thought you may be able to relate?  I believe the last time we talked, I was in the middle of starting our third church with an amazing group of friends, and all started well, until...  Well, here's the deal, I don't know how else to say it.  

Everything anyone ever wants to see happen in their vocation was happening for us, and then I just left.  You read that right, I left it all.  I left the church.  I left the city we loved.  I left it all.  To be honest, on one hand, I feel crazy and afraid for doing that, and on the other hand oddly secure.    

I guess it all started about five years ago.  I'm assuming this based on a conversation between me and Sarah, in which we felt we should have left our current ministry position.  But we didn't.  We stayed because that was the responsible thing to do.  After a few years of experienced success, the busyness along with mental and emotional multi-tasking numbed me to what I had been feeling.  As time went on, and I continued to sacrifice my true self for the good of the whole, I become lost in my own context.  I vowed, to "rediscover me again", but doing so disrupted many of the other relationships and endeavors around me in which my false-self had become an integral piece, which then, resulted in very little peace around me.  

Sarah and I started getting council from both faith and business leaders outside of our context.   Several people told us to take a three-month sabbatical.  However, a few others advised us to take a longer sabbatical if possible.  This advice was based on the level of burn out revealed in my anger, cynicism, and inability to dream.  The realization that I had lost my ability to dream, was the brightest flare signaling something was wrong.  

So, we did it -we crossed our t's and dotted our I's.  We took the advice we had been given and left the busyness and familiarity of city-life behind.  We moved to a small farming community in the mid-west.  This is when things went really dark.  I have described it as an apophatic experience, expressed through several physical symptoms, and then finally diagnosed as high-functioning depression.  But I was no longer "high-functioning" and therefore the depression could no longer hide behind all I was doing.  So much to say, but this is where I leave you. 

So, I covet your feedback and thoughts on this.  Any input or questions are welcomed.  And of course, I would appreciate it if you would throw some good thoughts and prayers my way.   

Hope all is well, I'm doing better.  

Matthew