Today I had a pastor’s wife who asked me about a former member of Special Gathering.  Margie and I were extremely close until she moved into our town, got into supported living and later got married. 

I tried to continue the relationship by being friendly to Margie at social events even though she quit coming to Special Gathering.  When it was apparent that she was turning her back on me when I spoke to her, I stopped speaking.  That prompted a call from her supported living coach saying that she was extremely hurt with me because I was ignoring her.  I explained the events from my point of view. 

After a couple more calls from various support staff, it had become perfectly clear to me that I had become the person to whom she felt an obligation and she didn’t like it.  As someone put it, I became “the man.”  She felt that I was the one person from her past to whom she had to answer.  I could certainly understand her dilemma. 

Margie had lived under the thumb of her mother and older brother all her life.  She had been directed, abused and neglected during those 50 years.  Now she was on her own.  She was a married woman. Was she seeing me as a remnant of an unpleasant past that she wanted to leave behind?  I thought that was the case.

I had directed her from several abusive situations after her mother died.  But I wasn’t needed any longer and I was a bitter reminder of the situation from which she had been released.

I remember author and pastor, Jamie Buckingham, once telling me, “It is the people for whom you pour your life’s blood out who leave the church.”    I remembered his comment as I hung up the phone with the supported living coach for the last time.  Now, I’m friendly.  But I don’t invite her to church.  Because I picked her up on Sunday mornings, it had become my custom as I do with most people I pick up to call her and verify that she would be waiting for me.  I quit calling. 

Without going into detail, I explained a bit about the situation to the pastor’s wife.  She responded,  “Why would you drop her?  There is a church around the corner, from her apartment.  Call the pastor.  I know him.  He will pick the couple up.  Then you can call Margie to let her know that she has a ride to church again.”

“I will give the pastor a call.  But he will need to call the couple to inquire.  I don’t think I can get that involved.”

“Well, okay,”  she said with a disappointed look. 

It is always a question, when do you let go of a member?  If Margie called and asked for help, I would be there.  However, she has made it completely clear, through her support staff and in her actions that she doesn’t want my involvement.  What do you think?  When do you let go?