Transition Lesson: Ballin' With Two Homes
Transitioning is a lot if work, man.
I remember when I first moved out from home to come to Ontario for good. See I grew up in Montreal, Quebec in a bilingual suburb called Pierrefonds. Most of my childhood memories can be traced to my house, my neighbourhood, the local mall and the public transit that took me wherever I wanted to go. Montreal is my home town. This is the “…playground where I spent most of my days…” And the Habs are my home team, even when I’m not really caring about the sport (1).
That’s my home. I’ll never forget it and will always honour it. Where I go, my home comes too. But I don’t live there anymore.
I live in Ajax, Ontario. I have for about 7-8 years with Wifey and our two crazy crazies, after living in Markham and before that, North York. This is where I come after a long drive from Peterborough or a short walk from Chapters or Winners. This is where my kids colour on the walls, Becca does DIYs and we together make memories that we then exploit through social media. This is where I ignore the propaganda of #TMLtalk even when I’m not really caring about the sport (2). This is where I, in the words of Nas, “represent, represent, Kid.” When I say I’m going home, I mean to this place, to my family and specifically, to the most comfortable ugly couch and comforter combo this side of heaven.
Montreal will always be my home AND my HOME is here in Ajax.
This has been something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. So much that I haven’t written about it since…the last time I posted. The idea of home. Why? Because I am a man with two homes. Transitioning from one job to another has done this.
As always, I should explain.
In August of 2013 our family left our home church of close to nine years, Agincourt Pentecostal Church, and I took a job at Master’s College and Seminary as their First Year Pastor/Director of Recruiting/Urban Relations/Chapel Director and other stuff guy. Up to that point, all we had ever known was APC; her people, her standards, her way of doing things. We were spoiled because of how great home was. Our kids knew the ropes, ministry was going well after some amazing hires and we really felt that we were loved. But we knew it was time to move. And I had to hold to that sense even when the words of “I’ve made a huge mistake” would flood me for months on in as the initial transition was harder than I had anticipated.
All the while, we were without a church to go to. We wanted badly to go to APC but we also kinda didn’t because of how hard it was to leave. And to redo a goodbye would suck a lot. So we began the search for a new place to grow in Christ and in community (3).
Now when you’ve pastored for a long time, transitioning into a new home is tough. You notice things. You quietly sit there then loudly at home critique things. And you annoy people by saying, “Well, back home we used Kid Check…”. But we finally found a place where we could start that journey: King Street Community Church. Dave Larmour, their senior pastor, had helped to hire me at APC back in 2005. He had also invited Wifey on numerous occasions to help with leading worship there. We also knew their staff well at the time, with one of their pastors being my caucasian doppelgänger (4). Plus it was the only place where Liam wouldn’t cry when he went into the nursery. It was a good fit.
Meanwhile from time to time, I would still go to APC to help out with worship, or speak for my older sister Jan Mokand and her young adults, or just to bug the staff because I missed that type of interaction. And it was…cool…yet weird…yet fun…yet off. All at the same time (5).
Like my transition from my house to living on my own, visiting was always fun but different. It felt like the same place but it wasn’t and it isn’t; The team is different. I think I’m still loved there but some relationships are different. New ideas are starting to flow out and new dreams are being built on the dreams that were built when I was there…like how my mom and dad changed my old room into a storage room for mom’s shoes.
Yet that’s my home. It’ll always be there for me because of the family there (the staff I grew up with/watched me grow up, the kind families, etc.) but since October, we have a new home too!
While we were attending King Street, the transition of our friends Dave and Katie led to Becca being approached by the Larmours to join their staff team as their Worship and Arts Pastor. The role was something that fit Becca like a glove and so she said yes. Now three months in, I’ve watched as the people have gotten used to her and her to the people, something that she had to do with me years earlier. I’ve sat through suppers of “And then at work…” stories, coffees of “What should I do about…” and I have been proud of her every step of the way. Her voice has gotten stronger, her leadership more sure and the support of the staff team makes it all the better.
Plus our kids really like it. Liam has made friends and Ellie is exactly as you’d imagine:)
King Street is our home. And that’s a really good thing!
Typing that means some things though. Moving or transitioning means that you can’t get to stuff at your old house (ex. Church: events, MTL: Thanksgiving) because you have stuff at your new one (ex. Church: Small Groups, Ajax: Convincing MTL family to come for thanksgiving). It means that, just like back in MTL, some friendships will last because of genuine intentionality and familial affection while others will slowly become awkward labour (6). It means cheering on old and new friends from the sidelines. It means getting to know new people and building new relationships (7). It’s watching my wife lead as pastor while I support as her spouse.
It means being okay with your old room being changed while getting used to your new digs. It means enjoying visits to one but having excitement to get back to your DVR and couch.
It means transitioning. It means being home (8).
Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t miss home, by the way. Ellie will often say, “Dad, I miss my old church” and I’ll tell her that I do too. We’ll always love home. Home will always be in us and a part of us.
And it also means that we ARE home too. And we really love it here.
One family, two homes…and that’s okay. We ballin'.
SIDENOTE: When Wifey read this, she said, “Oh I thought this was going to be spiritual about how earth is our temporary home but how heaven is the home we’re going to and that we’re in two homes…” Well now she said it. Look at her, eh?
1. The Expos, Dragons, Machine, Impacts and the CFL’s Alouettes are a part of me too, man.
2. This is where I’m learning what it means to carry the Raptors banner and cheer for the Blue Jays.
3. We also had quietly thought about how cool it would be if Becca, who many people don’t know was pastoring before I finished school but then resigned from that position so we could move to Toronto and join the APC staff, was able to get plugged in and possibly join a church staff. More on that later…dun dun dun…
4. Shout outs to my homie Dave Smith. Honoured to do life with that guy and his wife Katie!!!
5. I would talk about this with Pastor Smith and his guidance during this season was invaluable. When I would say, “This is weird, right?” he’d just say “Nope.” Esther, his wife, would say “You’ll always be our Chris.” That made me feel better in ways they won’t ever understand. This thought helped as I spoke at their youth retreat this fall. I was able to serve their pastors and not feel weird about it. It was a good visit with some of my favourite people!
6. Social media is the best and worst for this: In some ways, you see people progress without you which is great. And you see people progress without you, which sucks. Funny how needy we get with those we’ve made investments; you want to see them succeed but not abundantly. It’s kinda sick. No one would ever SAY that though…lol. The only thing that’s better is when you notice that someone you thought you were close to deletes you from their social media platform. I guess too many pics of my kids is annoying. Okay, rant over:)
7. So for us it means hanging out after church with the Larmours, Ratzs, Bosharts and Van Engens. It’s laughing with Sawyer, Campbell and talking ministry shop with Burton. It’s hugs from kind people who love us and want to get to know us. It means watching Becca lead us in worship and grow as a leader. It means Liam and Ellie running on a new platform after church with their “PK status” until the rules change. It means speaking from time to time there and using noise makers. It means watching two students I taught at MCS lead me and my kids as my pastors. It means getting staff and church family Christmas baking.
8. I also recognize that I am fortunate to have had a such a healthy leaving. Dr. Van Johnson would always say “It’s not every place where you leave that they’d want you to come back.” I do consider that a blessing. Pastor Smith is a great example of that. In the places he was before APC, they always call him for advice and encouragement. His example, man. He’s the Jon Stewart of the PAOC; people who work with him always leave better and more equipped than when they came in. And he only brings in top notch people.