One night at G.L. Perry Variety Store, the manager detained me at the door and my life changed radically. I was arrested and taken to the police station. The hardest call of my life was to ask my parents if they would come and pick me up. This began the dark days of shame, facing my community and being forced to work through it with them. I wanted nothing more than to be able run away and start over somewhere else. However, the best thing for me was that I had to stay and work it through.
This has formed an important ethic in me. I believe in finishing well, in not burning bridges. I am so grateful that I stayed another two years to work at relationships before I was given permission to find a new church. I've had a number of difficult moments in the years since my arrest. In each, I was able to draw on that earlier time to stay true to my calling in the midst of my failure.
Changes and new beginnings are a part of life. But we can do our best to end well, to leave with integrity, to tend to the relationships that will be altered. Do the hard work of saying good-by. Recognize that people will be hurt and angry, but keep your own integrity in the midst of it. It's in those moments that our character and resolve will be tested. People will try all kinds of things to push us into a reactive mode. But it is those moments that define us, that reveal our inner resolve and strength. Then when it's time to move, move as quickly as possible and plant in the new place.
-John M Troyer
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