Katrick: Finding peace after big decisions

During my senior year at Oberlin College, I lived at South Hall in a single room. Right next to me, in a quad, were four “wild and crazy” freshmen, and I mean this in a good way. Those young fellows sure kept things fun and interesting for this, “old fellow.”

One of the ways I decorated the walls of my room, was by displaying some of my artwork (mostly charcoal portraits), and a few of my favorite cartoons. One of these is by Jules Feiffer, a cartoonist and satirist.

Rev. Mark Katrick is a guest columnist for the Newark Advocate and an ordained minister.
Rev. Mark Katrick is a guest columnist for the Newark Advocate and an ordained minister.

It has a woman standing on the precipice, deciding whether or not to jump over a chasm. “I can’t,” she says, staring down into it. “I won’t” she insists, walking away. “I must,” she declares, stepping back with resolve. “I’ll die if I try,” she fears. “I’ll die if I don’t try,” she worries. “I will!” she exclaims. I did!” she shouts, jumping over. “What have I done?” she wonders, standing on the other side.

I’ve stood in that woman’s place all too many times, facing important and life-changing decisions, and wondering whether to jump, or walk away. Leaving the liminal space of transition from full-time pastoral ministry, I’m now the one standing on the other side asking, “What have I done?”

What I haven’t done is harbor doubts and fears, and second-guess myself. As much as I cherished St. John’s UCC and loved the people I was blessed to serve for nearly 13 years, it was time. There will be no turning back.

Though I’ve thoroughly contemplated, prayed and discerned this, I’ll readily admit this is still scary. But it’s also very exciting.

You may ask how I know what I’m doing is the right thing. The answer to your question is what the still, small voice of Jesus has been saying to me, largely and loudly. “It’s time!” And his helper, the Holy Spirit keeps nudging me full-forward into my brand new callings as a part-time pastor to a Presbyterian congregation I already feel connected with, and as a spiritual guide, growing a practice.

Just so you know, in my retirement, I plan to continue writing columns and maintaining connection with you, my readers.

For those of you with chasms to jump and transitions to make, I’d imagine that you are feeling similar feelings to the woman in Feiffer’s cartoon and me. What I would say to you is that with the Lord as your Shepherd and Guide, there’s only one way to go – full into a bright, hope-filled future with the greenest pastures and stillest waters you’ve ever seen.

When scary moments come, don’t look back. Hold close to your heart these words that Paul – who always seemed to be moving from one liminal space to the next – wrote to the Philippians in Chapter Four, verses six and seven:“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Mark Katrick is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a certified spiritual director.

This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Katrick: Finding peace after big decisions