I slumped down against the back wall of the balcony, finally allowing a few tears to escape the captivity of my saddened eyes.
I fumbled with my phone, rereading a text message my friend Steve had sent earlier in the evening - one that inquired if I would be joining him and a few others for a bite to eat following the service. Steve asked again, in person, on my way into the church. I told him I'd drop by for a bit, not going into detail about my departure from the city.
I sat for a few more moments, in the sacredness of my goodbye to a church I've grown to love.
As the chatter down below moved towards silence, I picked myself up off the ground, and moved towards the stairs, taking each step slowly, feeling the impact of my body against the wood boards.
My friend Ray East greeted me on the base step with a warm hug, and enthusiastic words to see me. He continued on, going into how a former student of mine expressed to him how much she enjoyed meeting up with me recently. As he spoke the tears well up once more, cluing him in. I wasn't okay.
"Ray," I quivered as I spoke. "I think I'm going to have to go back to Michigan. I'm not well enough to stay in New York."
And then Ray, who is the most discerning, humble, and encouraging man I know, rested his hand on my shoulder and spoke over me, and prayed over me such a way, that finally made me believe...
I AM GOING TO BE OKAY.
I AM GOING TO GET THIS THROUGH THIS.
MY BODY AND SPIRIT WILL BE HEALED.
Ray believed for me. Ray had faith for me.
He instilled in me the confidence I so desperately needed.
I WILL BE HEALED.
"Katrina," Ray explained, "I had migraines for 5 years, and thought I was going to have to go back to the Bahamas and have my mom take care of me the rest of my life." (His family is from the Bahamas, I internally noted - not quite the same as returning to the depressing winters of Michigan.) But I'm healed, and I'm here in New York." Ray went on to reassure me, I would be too.
Someone was waiting to Ray's far right. I apologized for holding up Ray on their way out. I had taken only 2 or 3minutes of their time, but it was perhaps 2 or 3 of the most crucial minutes of my life.
As Nate and I walked over to join the others for dinner, my plans to "responsibly" step down from my leadership position along the way, shifted.
Nate insisted, "You don't need to leave New York. WE'LL figure this out. WE'LL help you find places to stay until your housing situation gets worked out."
I've never been so grateful for such stellar brothers of Christ. Living life single is already hard enough, but to have quality men from my church step in for support and reassurance makes me an even greater fan of the local church.
I'm not alone. I'm part of a body - my local church body. When I hurt, the healthy parts pull me up and into the life stream, so I too can get the oxygen I need.
a former coworker/cubicle mate, author of The Life of Manny, professional life coach, elder at my church whose awesomeness was first mentioned to me by Scott Harrison a month before meeting him in person, who I still need to set up with my good friend Amanda from Portland