I remember sitting in what is now the toddler room with Meegan and a few kids my age. I remember going around introducing ourselves to everyone. I said my name, my age, and my favorite color. Just to give you a frame of reference, this was at a point in my life where I still thought “rainbow sparkles” was a valid color within society, so it was quite some time ago. I have grown from a toddler into an adult here and I’ve watched most of these kids grow up from tiny babies into practically teenagers. I’ve met friends that have turned into family and I’ve watched that family grow and develop and change over time. I have never known a church other than S.E.C. and I wouldn’t trade this place for the world.
As many of you know, I’m moving to Nashville permanently at the end of July. For quite some time now, I have known that July 30th will be my last day at S.E.C. with the exception of occasional visits. So, when I found out that S.E.C. was closing, I didn’t expect it to affect me as much as it has. I assumed that, because I was moving on to big and exciting things in Nashville, I wouldn’t miss this place quite as much. However, what I didn’t realize, is how much I looked forward to coming to visit. I was waiting anxiously for the Thanksgiving eve service and for the week I would be back in town over Christmas break so I could come say hi. I looked so so forward to surprising all my kiddos over the summer one Sunday and having them run to me with their bright smiles and open arms, just as they always have. I expected to have that to come back to whenever I visited St. Louis. Now, however, everything is different.
I never expected to be sitting in the kids’ room looking at the faces that I’ve watched grow up while Meegan announced the official closing date. I never expected to be holding back tears as I hugged those kids goodbye that week. I never thought I would become so attached to this place and the people I’ve met here. I never expected to be leaving this place not knowing if I would see everyone here ever again. And that terrifies me.
I’ve had a lot of changes in my life and S.E.C. has been the one thing that has been consistent through all of them. Sure, people have come and gone, but my core S.E.C. family has been here since before I can remember. The idea of not having that anymore is absolutely terrifying. It scares me that, when I walk out these doors on July 30th, it might be my last time seeing my S.E.C. family. It will be the last time we will all be in this building, this building that has been home. It will quite possibly be the last time I will get to hug each and every one of these people goodbye. And that is so unbelievably scary.
Right now, of the kids who have been coming here since the very beginning, I’m the oldest who is still here consistently. Which means, in my own mind, that I have to stay strong for all the other kids who have spent their whole lives here growing up with each other. I have to convince them that this is all okay and that we need to look at it as an opportunity rather than a sad event. The reality, however, is that this is sad. It’s sad to see something you’ve loved for so long being taken away from you and knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. It’s hard to accept the fact that the people you have seen every week since before you can remember will not be here anymore. It’s hard to realize that the people you’re moving away from may not be there when you get back.
So, yeah, I’m trying to convince myself that it’s all going to work out and that it will be okay. I’m trying to keep myself strong for those who are falling apart around me. This probably isn’t the most successful endeavor in the world, but, hey, at least I’m trying.
If there’s one thing that S.E.C. has taught me about life, it’s that, when you’re surrounded by people who care, things keep moving forward. We roll over speed bumps and leap over hurdles and, together, we can get through just about anything. Logically, we all know we will get through this. And we know everyone here will be there to support each other as the end approaches. We know that, no matter how hard this is, it wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t supposed to. Maybe we don’t know the reasoning right now, and maybe we won’t for a while. But one day, we will look back on all of this, and realize that this had to happen in order for something else to come along. It will take time and probably a lot of tears, but it will be okay in the end. And if it’s not okay it’s not the end.