I have lived my entire life in a glass house.
My childhood was lived as the son of a preacher man in the Appalachians, where the public had no qualms about dropping in unannounced at the parsonage that we called “home,” exercising their duty in telling our parents how to properly “bring their hellions (meaning my brother and I) up.”
I was then transported almost immediately to twenty-plus years of glaring and relentless scrutiny on a mega-church stage.
And, if that were not enough, in an ironic twist of fate, as I wearily stepped off the stage, I fell backwards into the radical discontinuity of the social networking explosion in 2006.
Little did I know I would be leaving the stage in front of thousands each week at the mega-church only to find myself surreally living in front of tens of thousands of “followers” every day.
Some day I’m sure there will be books written about this phenomenon. Maybe there already have been. We eerily watched Randy Pausch deliver his last lecture before dying and then a few months later read @kickbee’s Tweets from the womb six months before he was born.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in death and in life, there is no such thing as privacy anymore.
In the glass parsonages of Twitter, Facebook and Google+, the public has sent me cryptic messages such as, “You’re not tweeting like yourself,” “I didn’t realize you moved to Austin,” to “How are you and Jesus?”
So, I feel I should write the following public and open letter.
Date: October 6, 2011 7:00:19 AM CDT
To: RandyElrod.com readers
Subject: A Public & Open Letter
Dear long-time readers, friends and those of you I don’t even know,
It is with profound sadness in my heart that I write this post.
My wife Chris and I are divorced as of October 4th after 32 years of marriage.
As you know very well if you are a long-time reader here, the last five years since I have transitioned from the stage and church pastorate have not been easy.
In fact, I have not coped well at all with a growing struggle with God, the church, and yes, with myself.
Please pray for our family. This is a crisis time. I want to acknowledge this situation is the result of my own bad choices.
I began intense therapy with a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin in June. He was a godsend in my life.
A few very close friends have also been beside me in grace, love and truth during this difficult time.
I am doing my best to deal with the devastation I have caused.
I am currently living in Austin, Texas and many of the pastors and members of the church communities of Gateway and Riverbend, while not agreeing with my current choices and actions, have wrapped their arms around me and are loving me unconditionally. I am also continuing weekly intense professional counseling here in Austin with a licensed psychologist.
I know we each have our struggles. But, as a leader, I also know that I am held to a higher standard. The consequences of my choices have been and continue to be sweeping, hurtful, and confusing. I take full responsibility. I am doing my best to get the help I need and hopefully someday repair the relationships I have damaged. I would be so grateful for your prayers during this time.
I have spoken candidly and honestly with Ramy Antoun, pastor at Gateway; Vince Marotte, pastor at Gateway; Carlton Dillard, pastor at Riverbend (a re:create charter alum since 2001) and the team of fifteen church leaders who are leading the effort for the inaugural re:create One Day event in Austin, TX on Oct. 19. I offered to cancel the event, but Ramy, Vince, Carlton and the leadership team believe with all their hearts that we should go ahead as planned. Gateway and Riverbend Churches in Austin are known far and wide for their ministry to broken people—and they insist that means me as well. To be honest, I sometimes have a difficult time believing this.
We also intend to proceed with the twelfth annual re:create Gathering of Creatives 2012 in Franklin. Philip Yancey, Tim Sanders and Derek Webb are already contracted. We don’t think my unfortunate circumstances should deprive fellow re:creators from gaining refreshment, encouragement and ideas from them.
From inception, we have said that re:create is not about a personality or a particular church philosophy or methodology—it is about all of us. The magic that happens every year at re:create is everyone together refreshing, encouraging and diffusing ideas. re:create is not about Randy. re:create is about all of us.
At this time, I plan not to be on stage at either event. I will continue to guide the marketing and business side of things and the schedule preparation and logistics in cooperation with a leadership team of alumni.
I truly consider myself in ICU—but my closest friends and advisors believe that continuing re:create (and life) is important.
Again, if you pray, please pray for all of us. We need it desperately.
We also need your love and grace.
I greatly value your friendship, concern and dedication to RandyElrod.com. I am also very sorry for the hurt and disappointment I may be causing you.
I am deeply regretful and humbly ask for your forgiveness and prayers.