Sometimes I get so tired of trying to look on the bright side. I get sick of looking for the silver lining. There I said it!
When I was in my early 20’s I lost my 13 month old son and a little while later my husband left. Sometimes I feel like a broken record saying that- “Hi, my name is Blake and my son died. Oh, and then my husband left.” But it just so happens that that is the lens through which I view most of my world. I wouldn’t say that those two things dictate the whole of my life, but it is difficult for me to process any given situation without those events in the back of my head.
One way that plays out in my life, I think, is I am relatively comfortable with the fact that people are going to come and go in my life, until I’m not. It’s just a fact. Loved ones die, friendships fizzle, lovers leave. I think I have spent the better part of the last decade attempting to perfect the hard shell around my heart which allows those events not to (seem) to hurt.
There was a time I did this in a cynical, dark, somewhat arrogant kind of way. To put it in simple terms, I was a brat. When I look back on that time, I feel like I’m watching a home movie of a toddler throwing a tatrum, digging my heels in saying “I’m a big girl now. You can”t make me feel bad!” Obviously, that’s ridiculous. But since I’ve come to know Jesus those feelings have taken on a different tone. Not necessarily better or healthier, just different. Now I just accept that all people are on a different path and have their own lives to live, except when I don’t.
I expect the people I love to come and go. Really I do. I have a 15 year old son that will leave for college and his own beautiful destiny soon enough. I have a mother I adore who is 69 years old and will inevitable die. I have friends that I pray will be scattered across this big, wide world to become who the Lord has called them to be. But for today, today I am worn out from loving them all. I’m tired of being grateful for the individual roads the Lord has put them on. I’m tired of looking on with excitement and expectation of where their journey will take them. I’m over saying goodbye to the relationship we currently enjoy and that I have come to depend deeply on in honor of the greater story that will be told in their lives. Today I feel selfish.
I’ve spent too much of my life saying goodbye. My best friend in this world since we were 5 years old lives in NYC and has for most of our adulthood. My roommate and close friend has found what I hope is the love of her life and moved out. My dad died in 2004. When I’m being honest I have to admit that these things have left giant holes in my heart. I work in ministry, which is uniquely lovely and fulfilling, and also a constant exercise in letting go. The bonds that are forged on a church staff (mine at least) are strong and tender and life giving, but we are also a people who are earnestly listening to that still, quiet voice telling us where to go. Sometimes the journey that voice will call us to is simply somewhere else.
There are times when it is all I can do not to just throw in the towel. Those times are rare, but they exist. Some days all I want is to stay home, turn on the West Wing, cuddle with my husband (I got remarried), and turn off the phones. I will not make any new relationships today. I will not love someone else, fiercely and with abandon today, just to watch them disappear from my life tomorrow. Because I love you and you make my life a better, more enjoyable place to live. And for today I am feeling selfish.
Through the years I have spent fighting this same demon again and again, there is something I have learned. Hope is a choice. Living is a choice. Loving is a choice. And above all, faith is a choice. NONE of these are easy choices to make. But like it or lump it, it is true- I want more than anything for you to have the life you were meant to have! Sometimes that will mean with me and sometimes without. Sometimes I will get to go with you where you go and sometimes I won’t. Thankfully, on most days I CHOOSE to hope and believe beyond all hope and belief that where you are going is grand and that when you leave it won’t hurt all that bad. Most days I will CHOOSE to love you and live life alongside you and pray that your leaving won’t hurt all that bad.
But for today, saying goodbye sucks.