Thursday, August 27, 2015

[ saying goodbye ]

Two weeks ago today, I said goodbye to fifteen of the most beautiful children I've ever met. Fifteen children who changed my life, showed me Jesus, and wrote their precious long names in sharpie, marker, crayon, pen all over their auntie's heart. As I held each little one for the last time, I told them how thankful I was for their lives, how grateful I was to Jesus that He brought them into mine, and how proud I was of them, and how excited I am for their future. And then I just held onto them as they cried, and let my own tears fall, but truth is, saying goodbye is hard.

And even through our tears, there were all kinds of smiles, laughter, even jokes. Because the bigger truth is, we all knew we had way more than our love for each other in our hearts. We have Jesus. And we don't say goodbye, we don't grieve like those without hope. We *know* where our confidence, our security, and a store of boundless love is. It's in the very heart, the very blood and Life of Jesus Christ. That same Life that flows in our veins. That's why we could be excited, and joyful, and smile and laugh, even though it felt like our hearts were being squeezed.

I don't know when I'll see those babies again, except for heaven. My time with them is finished - the Lord gave them to us for a season, that's all. I had the honor and privilege of loving them, caring for them, encouraging them, teaching them, training them, serving them, and working alongside them for the Kingdom. It was a short time, but what a time it was!

One week later, I said goodbye to one of my teammates, one of my best friends. The next day, I left, and had to say goodbye to the other three, as well as my home for roughly the past two years, and the community and the church I've grown to love and cherish. That was a whole nuther kind of hard. Because it's one thing to pour into a child and love them - it's an entirely different thing to serve alongside someone and work together as a team to pour out and love. We'll see each other again - most likely soon, although some sooner than others - but we'll never be a team like that again. It's also the end of a season.

Saying goodbye in the airport last week, having to let go when it seemed like I could stay forever...I learned something deeper about Jesus. Nothing that I didn't already know, but I learned it in stronger way. It's that He is our Peace. I had every reason to be a wreck, and in some very obvious ways, I was. But my soul was not. I was not in despair. I was hurting, but not because I was afraid or alone or anxious. I was hurting because love hurts. But I was joyful. And the deep peace that washed my soul as I was left by myself in that big familiar-yet-still-big airport was only supernatural.

It's been a hard week. Transitions like this are no joke. The enemy knows my weakness, and there have been times where I've just been staying ahead enough to *respond* to the attack. But strength is rising - hope is growing - truth always proves victorious. Walking forward on the offensive, beating the enemy before he attacks, making decisions based on truth instead of experience - Jesus wins. His Love (with a capital "L") wins.

Saying goodbye is hard - especially when your heart is full to overflowing, beating, pounding, throbbing with love. And the ache and joy afterwards are part of what it means to truly live. I've never felt more real, more myself, more alive than I have this week - as all the emotion welled up and swelled up and rocked me. Not because it was overpowering, but because it was beautiful.

I don't know if I'm making sense. My eyes are wet right now because new realities that are settling in are, and part of that new reality is the fact that my heart is spread out over multiple states and continents.

But every season is beautiful when Jesus is at the center.

And I'm so crazily thankful that He gave me something that makes saying goodbye so hard.