It is not, however, the finished-your-final-exam kind of relief I'd hoped for. It's more of a bad-guys-finally-stopped-chasing-you relief. Several times I longed for a week's beach vacation where my only responsibilities would be moving from bed to beachtowel and back again. I feel spent.
I went on a women's retreat this weekend. I was with a group of several dozen Christian women who did not know me. It was a lovely group -- diverse ages, warm, caring, and open to new friendships. I felt safe among them and realized it's been years since I felt safe in a church group.
God encouraged me through the Bible study and through several different women I met. I was proud of myself for finding a way to be kind & respectful toward our former congregation while also being honest about my sadness. Today someone even described me as "vulnerable," which is not a word I've ever known anyone to use about me.
I feel hopeful and realistic. We have passed an important landmark but the road is still long.