We have several dear friends leaving this weekend to start the next phase of life in a new city. When you are the one leaving there is excitement to combat the sorrow. There is the hope of new friendships to make, a new home to decorate, a new schedule to master, and new roads to learn. There is always the sadness of leaving those you love, but there is always the hope of the future and the distraction of SO MUCH CHANGE.
For the majority of my life I have been the one leaving. I was born in a hospital in Chattanooga, TN and lived my first year in nearby Soddy Daisy. At a time very close to my first birthday my family moved to Locust, NC and my father became the pastor of a Presbyterian Church there.
When I was ten we moved to Manning, SC. I was to enjoy three “Striped Bass Festivals” before we moved again to Birmingham, AL. My parents have been in Birmingham ever since, but I moved away for college, came back for almost three years,
moved to Georgia for three years,
Australia for two years,
Birmingham for two years and
we’ve been in this lovely metropolis for the past ten years.
All of this to say, I have usually been the one leaving.
Well it seems the Lord is telling us we are home for awhile and we are entering a season of watching others leave. All through seminary we had friends graduate and move on and one (or two) each year caused real deep sadness. But only once have I really felt truly “left”; once before now.
My dear friend, Jean, is moving away tomorrow. She has sold her house, packed up all her belongings and has been living in a hotel until it is time to go. She is taking a job on the East Coast and the Lord has provided the most amazing opportunity just minutes from two of her three children and three of her four grandchildren. She’ll be doing a job she loves, close to the people she loves and in a place she loves. It really seems that Jeremiah 29:11 has come to life for Jean in the most remarkable way I have ever witnessed.
I feel bad being so sad.
I feel selfish for feeling so “left”.
It’s odd to feel such joy and such sadness simultaneously. It’s ridiculous to see the goodness of the Lord so vividly and to turn and sin so blatantly. It’s SO ridiculous, in fact, that I am finding it hard to wallow. It’s nearly impossible to be selfish for any length of time and I have to admit that this is throwing me off a bit.
When I find myself asking, “But who will listen when I need to talk about. . . .?” I hear a still small voice reminding me that my God shall supply ALL my needs. When I wonder where I will fit in to the church without this mentor to guide me, I remember “the LORD directs his steps”. And when I get jealous (yes, that’s me being ultra vulnerable here) of those ladies in Washington and the time they will have with one of MY favorite people, I remember we have eternity to worship together at the throne of our Father – the one who authored this whole plan in the first place.
So, today I am going to have lunch with Jean and a bunch of other women who love Jean. I WANT to cry already; I just can’t. I WANT to wallow and sulk; I just can’t. I feel like my world should stop moving for an hour (or two) of silence but it can’t. What I can do is recognize the way God has used this woman in my life, rejoice that emailing and texting makes the miles shorter, and refrain from feeling “left”.
I am not being left. . . I am remaining.