Seems like I’m staring another goodbye in the face. I’ve never been good at saying goodbye. I’ve heard it said so many times in my life, “It’s not ‘goodbye’, its ‘see you later.'” But to me , its always ‘goodbye’ and never ‘see you later.’. I’m introverted to the core, and “see you later” seems too shallow. My heart wants to recognize everything that happened between point A and point B and goodbye seems to be the way to honor the space in-between. When I say goodbye, I’m recognizing that a significant thing has happened between us, in us, around us, to us. When I say goodbye, I honor the impact you’ve had on my life, the valuable place you hold in my heart, the experience we’ve shared in life together. I say goodbye with tears because you meant so much to me, we meant something together. You made me laugh. You made me think. You made me pray. You challenged me. You drew me closer to Jesus because Jesus was inside of you. How could I not honor you with my goodbye? To say “see ya later” means I ignore the YOU that is missing in daily life. So when I get all blotchy and red-in-the-face, and my tears push unrelenting down my cheeks, its just because you really meant something to me.
Recently I’ve had some thoughts about God’s people, the Israelites of the Old Testament. They had the pillar of cloud during the day and the pillar of fire at night. The pillar was God’s Presence and they just moved as the presence of the Lord moved. They didn’t know exactly how far they’d travel. Would they be on the move for just a day and then make camp? Or would it be a number of weeks before they could rest and settle in for bit? Who knew when the pillar of His Presence would pull in a new direction. And all comfort aside, following Him was the safest place, the protected place, the purpose-filled place, the anointed place, the holy place. They couldn’t be in a better place. And so I think I have a small inkling of how they felt. We’ve been here before also. We’ve moved when we didn’t know where, or what, or when, or how fast, or how long. We just knew the first things. The pillar had changed directions. So what does one do when the Pillar changes directions, and at the moment its not clear exactly which direction the forward movement will take? The course has been altered, but the coordinates aren’t clear. I’ve learned its just day-by-day one step at a time. God will give instructions for the day. I’d rather read the last chapter and see how the story ends. But, nope. We don’t get to do that. But theres comfort knowing we are following the Pillar and I do know that the “Promised Land” does show up in the final chapter.
Jesse and I became aware that the Pillar was beginning to move a new direction just under a year ago. We have not had many answers when people ask questions. We’ve been preparing in small ways. We’ve started our goodbyes. Right now, its goodbye to “things” like….the place we call home, the little gardens I’ve planted with so much joy and happiness (and lets be honest giddiness), the memories I have here in Rochester. In the not-so-distant future it will be to our amazing neighbors who are like grandparents to my kiddos (they love my boys so much), our awesome East Rochester community, my kids teachers that have loved them and encouraged them on so many levels, my kids friends, our beautiful Bethel family, the energetic group of kids we have spent Sunday mornings with for the last 7 years, the group of leaders we’ve had the honor of serving alongside, and my own dear parents that live just a hop, skip, and jump down the highway….its overwhelming. I could say “see you later”….because I definitely will stay connected as best I can. But theres a need to say goodbye. Because by saying goodbye, you know how much you meant to me. There will probably be no words to express. Tears will be the words of my heart.
I’ve noticed how the Lord builds on friendships and relationships. As much as its hard to leave the comfort of this place we are, we know God will strengthen the lasting friendships. We know our time at Bethel was purpose-full, and we know that God will continue to to build another level on the strong foundation. We say goodbye to this time, but we say hello to God’s plan for the next level. We look forward to staying connected in new ways, and seeing how the Lord’s plan for you can overlap with His plan for us. It most definitely is see you later….but only after a proper goodbye. Which, thankfully, is not this very moment.