When I first began writing on this subject I had no idea how much lay buried just under the surface. The more I wrote, the more that came up.
It’s an interesting paradox that Sunday morning meeting, the very place where the most comfort should be found, I now found the most awkward. I felt conspicuous and never more so than at convention. At first, it never occurred to me that I now had a choice as to whether or not I went to every meeting. It was hard to read the friends and other workers, but I knew on some level they were greatly disappointed in me and hurt. I felt alone in many ways but very grateful for a couple of friends who reached out in love and not judgment.
It was like overnight I no longer mattered to anyone. I felt punished by the group and the subliminal message was loud and clear: “Get back where you belong!” My mother was still alive and perhaps most thought I would go back in the Work after she passed. I understand now a little better how hard it is on the friends when a worker leaves; it shakes them for a while. It’s disappointing and hurtful. They want to be able to count on the workers being faithful. But faithful to what? To whom?
There were SO MANY adjustments to life outside! Some were funny such as “what is a debit card and an ATM?” I missed out on two decades of music (the 80’s and the 90’s) and culture which made me seem really naive to those in the workplace. One wonderful surprise was that I interviewed well for jobs and the Lord has blessed me with some wonderful ones, the last one I have been at for over 9 years now. A friend in Great Falls, Montana helped me build my resume while I was still in the Work! She had a pretty clear idea where I was headed. But perhaps one of the biggest and rather embarrassing things to admit to was going from being a semi-big fish in a little pond to a little fish in a little pond. Three years later when I would leave the fellowship altogether, I had to adjust to being a very small fish in a VERY big pond… an ocean!
It was a liberating time and yet a humbling or almost rather a humiliating time; depending on where I focused. Part of me wanted a keep a very low profile now within the group and part of me didn’t want to. It was an adjustment from being treated like a rock star; (ALL the workers are treated this way by the friends) to now just being in the audience and not even allowed back stage. I found myself retreating more and more and since my spiritual journey was now taking me on a much less traveled road than most in the group, it was easier to avoid them than to interact with them. I had so much to talk to God about during those days (I still do!).
Being in the Work really feeds your pride, self confidence and sense of worth and when you leave, Satan tries to steal all of it. I had to let God show me my value and worth in His sight and that took a long while. The journey, however, has been so rich, deep and amazing though and I have been blessed over and over again. God is truly a debtor to no one.