I have written the last two weeks about leaving by the back door – the incident in life that prompted these musings was not at church. But the parallels to how people leave our faith communities is strong. And the same can be said for lodges, Scout troops, Rotary clubs and the like. For a final week I write about the process of leaving – next week I want to start reflecting on what to do about it.
The thing that I realized this week is that people who leave by the back doors of our churches and other groups have already grieved the loss of their connection with us They have been hurt in some way (usually) and have agonized over their decisions (often). They have grieved what could have been and what is lost. They have waited for some sign to stay. Some change that would say to them “Wait, remain here!”
But they reach the end of the journey out the door and they have already moved on to new things. Or at the very least left behind our group. If I am right, it explains why it is so hard to stop folks who reach a certain place. They have passed through their grief. They have found peace or at least resignation. And to turn back would be too much.
I don’t know that I am right about any of this leaving stuff. I know it speaks to my experience in other places and settings. What to do about it if we are responsible for keeping that back door closed and people from that back hallway?