Retirement can bring a plethora of memories, good memories and some not so good. Giving up a life of ministry leaves a gaping hole in life. Everything and everyone moves on. Most of us are not designated “pastor emeritus.” Yet, our ministry was so much a part of our lives that retirement causes a large, empty space. All those who called upon us to speak or do workshops at various functions have moved on to younger ministers.
On the wall are myriad certificates of education and experience. The shelves are filled with awards and memories of being honored. I look at them now and again and remember fondly all that happened in my past.
Then I move into the present, which fortunately, is mostly a place of contentment. Like many retired ministers, I do feel discarded and forgotten at times, as if my years of experience mean nothing. No one remembers the angst that accompanied my calling and ordination. No one recalls the rancor leveled at all Baptist women seeking ordination in those days. No one seems to remember that women had to work harder and longer than our male colleagues. The newspapers reported the upheaval surrounding our call to a ministry position. No one seems to remember the glorious community-wide celebration when a woman actually found a place of ministry.
But I remember. I remember it well. And although memories can be painful, my life is also filled with sweet memories. I have made peace with retirement and that is a good thing. My memories give me joy and comfort as I remember so many times of ministry, so many different people who graced my life. So I say thanks for the memories. The good far outweighed the bad.