I stood in holy reverence as the pastor poured a horn of oil over my head. I had prepared for this moment for over a year. It was never in my trajectory to become an ordained minister, but I had felt a tugging at my heart informing me that this is how God was inviting me to join Him in His mission.
Although I had spent the past two years living in Santa Fe, I was to return back to my hometown of Las Cruces to plant a church. I wasn’t quite sure how that was going to pan out. Nevertheless, I trusted that God would guide and direct me as I moved forward with the plan.
In spite of the uncertainty, I was completely confident that I wasn’t alone. I had plenty of family and friends that I could lean on for support. In addition, I was dating a young lady that I knew I could depend on. Although she lived in Santa Fe, she was originally from Las Cruces, too. We had known each other for years, and since I could remember, she spoke of her desire to someday marry a pastor.
I was aware of her traumatic childhood. I was also aware of how it had impacted her life. Her father was extremely abusive to her mother and to the family. In fact, she bore a small scar near her eye from a brick that her father had flung at her when she was little. Her experiences caused her to be abrasive in her interactions at times.
She could be distrusting of people, and it took a while to gain her trust. Although our relationship had a bit of a bumpy start, I found myself madly in love with her and could not wait to make her my bride. She, too, spoke of her desire to marry me and support the church that I would plant. My twenty-three-year-old heart could not wait to see how everything would roll out.
Prior to my ordination, my pastor and I had talked about the ceremony. He had informed me that he was going to fill a “real bull’s horn” with oil and pour it over my head. It was explained that the prophet Samuel used a flask jar to pour oil over Saul’s head when he was anointed to be king. It appeared that Samuel did this because Saul was chosen by man. However, when he anointed David to be King, he used a horn of oil. He did this because David had been chosen by God.
He went on to explain that a horn was a symbol of sacrifice. For us to use the horn of an animal, the animal would have to lose its life. He explained to me that the life of ministry would be a life of continual sacrifice. Little did I know that his explanation was foreshadowing what would take place that night. Before the night would end, a little part of me would die.
After the pastor finished his prayer, music started, and people came forward to express their love and their commitment to pray for me. As my friends and family came forward, I carefully scanned the room for my girlfriend. After a few glances, I spotted her walking toward the back of the church where she paused for a moment and then proceeded to step out the front door. At first, I assumed that she had gone to the restroom or to make a phone call. After several minutes had passed, and when she hadn’t come back inside, I realized that something was very wrong.
The next few days were a blur. Through conversation with friends and an eventual conversation by phone, I came to find out that she had come to the understanding that she didn’t want to be a pastor’s wife after all. Apparently, she realized this during my ordination. However, she still wanted to marry me. Nevertheless, I was given a choice, I could pursue her or pursue the plan that God had for me. It was quite apparent that I could not do both.
I wish I could tell you that the story of our relationship had a smooth and amicable ending. However, it was far from it. Much to her disappointment, I made the choice to continue to pursue ministry. At first, I was attacked with accusations of unfaithfulness which were then followed by missiles of insults. Before I could put a stop to it, my heart and mind became a battlefield. Nevertheless, I remained committed to be the person that I was created to be. Sadly, I saw her transform from a quiet and timid lady to a rambunctious and promiscuous party girl. My heart cried as I closed this chapter in my life.
This was very well one of the most difficult moments of my early twenties. However, I learned a few things from it.
It is unrealistic to believe that I will never be hurt by the people that I love.
One of the most trivial things about humanity is what we are capable of doing. As human beings, we have the ability to create moments of greatness that are beyond belief. At the same time, we are completely capable of creating tsunamis of sadness. We, who are capable of such joy and travesty, ought to recognize that others hold the very same power and ability that we do. We must recognize that pain is inevitable and preparation to forgive and move forward is imperative. We must understand that every time that we extend love to someone, we are also taking a risk to be hurt. It’s up to us to embrace the fact that God is available to empower us and see us through.
Though the seasons change, God’s love always remains.
I have a confession to make…. I sometimes struggle with the fear of ending up alone.
Perhaps this is due to the fact that I haven’t always been able to count on others. But heck, the truth is that I haven’t always been able to count on myself either. Truth is that the largest source of pain that I know of is me. I am guilty of not treating my body right. I am guilty of entertaining unhealthy thoughts. I am guilty of making pretty stupid decisions sometimes. Nevertheless, I am never forsaken.
Throughout my ups and downs, whether caused by others or myself, God’s love is always constant. In spite of not always having the answers that I’d like to have. In spite of confusion and lack of understanding. God’s peace surrounds me. Truth is His peace absolutely surpasses an understanding that I could ever hope to have. I’m gratefully learning to trust His peace more and more every day.
God always surrounds me with the people I need for my current season in life.
She wasn’t the first person who walked out of my life. She wasn’t the last either. As much as it hurts me to say this, most people have a certain shelf life when it comes to being part of yours. I’m not saying this to scorn those who are no longer with me. Rather, I say it as a realistic way to accept that some people are not meant to remain by our side forever.
I have come to the point where I am beyond grateful for the time that people chose to walk beside me. I soak myself in gratitude when I reminisce on the memories of the joy that they brought to me. In those moments, I also ask God to bless them. However, I have come to trust that my heavenly Father who is the giver of good things will always provide the right people to walk with me during any given season of life.
He is all-knowing. He is all-powerful. So I trust Him with my heart and my life even when I don’t understand the process.
John Eli Garay
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on john-eli.com
Featured Image by Vladislav Babienko