For as long as I can remember, I have heard people say “it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later”….lately I have even said it a lot myself. Lately I’ve looked into the eyes of people I care about, and chimed this little saying out into the air, and watched it sit there. And it’s got me thinking about why we hate goodbyes.
There are the obvious answers about change and finality, broken relationships, and bad memories. I don’t for a moment pretend that I don’t have all of those things associated in my mind with goodbyes. Because, I do. I have felt the sting of goodbye in my life time, and sometimes I can feel it as vividly as the moment it was spoken. Yet there is so much of me, that sees something greater in those moments.
I have realized that there is good in goodbye. Those same goodbyes that stung, launched me into places I never thought I would be, made me into a person I never imagined I would become, and strengthened my heart so much more than they hurt it.
Without some goodbyes, I would not be able to be getting married, or to be looking forward to saying good morning to the man I love for the rest of my life. You see it was by saying goodbye to someone else, that I learned to say hello to myself. My goodbyes pushed me to deal with myself, to grow, to seek God, to heal, to love myself. My goodbyes are the very reason I am able to love someone else. They are the reason I learned to embrace who I am, and where God is taking me.
Along this line though, I now face even more goodbyes. The trust to follow where God is leading me, for this next season of my life was built by a goodbye. Now life has come full circle and I am facing yet another goodbye…multiple actually.
You know we always talk about “God opening doors”, and how exciting they are. Don’t get me wrong, they are but I guess the reality of open doors is hitting me. Because, what good is an open door, if you don’t walk through it? But walking through a door, means leaving the room you’re in, and that’s where goodbyes come in.
For the last two years I have had the privilege to “stand in a room” called Cornerstone. I have had the honour to Pastor, lead, love and learn with an incredible group of people, and so…I like this “room”. This “room” where people know me, and love me. Where people see my faults and push me beyond them. I love this “room” where everyone is family, where everything is safe. I have learned more, and grown deeper in the Lord with these people, in this “room” than I would have ever thought possible. So I am forced to ask myself, where is the good in saying goodbye to this room?
Well that good would be called: growth, trust, challenge, change, appreciation, acceptance, faith and hope.
This goodbye means growth, for both me and the people I say goodbye to. They will have the opportunity to grow to love, support and teach someone new. And I will grow to love a new group of people with a whole new set of thing to teach me. We will both learn to trust a God who promises that His timing is perfect, even when it doesn’t feel that way. We will be challenged to let go, and to move forward into what is unknown to us. Change will shape us, toughen us and mould us into who God intends us to be. We will appreciate each other more, realizing the depth of relationship and the blessing that truly is. We will accept that God’s vision is much much bigger than our own, as we each accept our new “rooms” and the people in them. These things will each develop our faith, and make us hungry for God’s leading in our lives. And most importantly, we will grow to hope. We will actually hope and pray for new doors, for new rooms, for new seasons and people. All of this good will develop a hope and an assurance in the goodness of the very big God we serve.
So this is GOODbye…this is what goodbye really means. It means an open door, and a world of possibilities. It does not mean forgetting, it does not mean leaving behind. In fact I believe it means quite the opposite. We take with us all that we have learned, everyone we have loved and God uses these things to start the process all over again. Goodbye means thank you…it means I love you….and it means….let’s see what’s next.
And that’s exciting.
Loneliness is a funny thing.
I am sitting in my bed tonight, like I do most nights missing this amazing man that I have the privilege of calling my own. We are closer than we have ever been to finally being together and yet, I wish it were closer.
After a year and a half of distance, and the blessing of doing life with this man even from a far, I can say that I have learned a few very valuable lessons. Whether it is the distance itself, the amazing heart of the man I love or the lessons God has been teaching me over the past two years I would like to say I am happier than I have ever been, distance or no. Even though being away from the love of my life aches in corners of my heart I didn’t know I had, somehow I wouldn’t change it.
You see from the very beginning, we knew we were choosing this life. We knew from the get-go that if we chose to take our friendship, and cross that line we had kept it behind for so long, that we would be choosing to do so over 500km’s apart. We would be choosing to see where “we” fit in the midst of two full time ministry positions, in two different cities, with the addition of school, family, and my health issues. Crazy? You bet, but we were even crazier about each other. I didn’t even hesitate for a second in choosing this man, there was not a second thought or pause. I entered into this whole heartedly, from the depths of my soul, with everything I had, despite the less than perfect conditions.
But it has been these conditions that have taught me things about the man I chose, that maybe I couldn’t have learned any other way. I learned that he is incredibly stubborn, but not in a bad way. He would like to say that he is ‘difficult’, but whatever you call it, I interpreted it as determination, to never give in, never give up, and never compromise when it came to our relationship. I saw this man go through the most incredible and sometimes unimaginable struggles, I sat with him on skype or the phone through some of the most heart-wrenching circumstances where everything inside of my felt like getting in my car, and driving all night to see him, to hold him. And yet even when I offered, even when I knew everything in him wanted me to be there just as bad, he said no. He chose wisdom, he chose to say no, don’t come, it doesn’t make sense, or it’s too late, or it’s not smart the way you’re feeling. With each moment of stubbornness I watched him put me first, love me more than he hated his circumstances, value me more than he wanted to be comforted. I watched him choose to love me by saying, It’s ok….I will be there soon.
I learned that you don’t need to see someone everyday to know their heart. I learned that talking for hours can bring two people closer than skin on skin ever would. I learned that by missing him, I could put him first, and allow him to serve powerfully where God had placed him, while I did the same. I learned that when we put God first, and we honoured where He had placed us that He would surely and eventually open doors to bring us together.
There are some things I am not perfect at yet. Truthfully I don’t believe I will ever be good at being away from the man I love, but what I have learned is that the life we have built together, even from afar is more than I could have ever hoped for and that the life we will build together in just a few months will be out of this world. How do I know? Because I have been loved such dedication, so passionately, with such strength and determination from miles away, that I know what that love transfers to when we are finally together.
I said to myself once, “well if we can do this, there is nothing we can’t do”, but you know the truth? This season is nothing compared to what I know we will face. I am not so disillusioned by love or passion that I can’t say we will face struggles. In fact I intend to work so powerfully for God’s kingdom with this man, that I might as well tape a target on my back now. I know without a doubt that we will face far greater things than distance. But I also know that I will face these things with the same man who puts me first, who refuses to settle, who chooses wisdom, and who seeks God above all else, and it’s for that reason that I cannot wait to walk hand in hand with him into our future.
So tonight, loneliness is a good thing. Loneliness is the reminder that I have someone amazing to miss, and we will have a life so full of love and so full of joy, hope, passion, and strength that it is worth the wait, and it always has been.
So here’s to forever, it’s really only days away.
So I spent this past weekend in two very incredible places.
First was jr high conference, where I took a group of 13 or so community students to their first Christian convention. For these students (all but three) have never been to church, never experienced worship, or corporate prayer, let alone altar time and the moving of the Holy Spirit.
Just before Friday night session I was struggling in my spirit. These days ministry has become tough. It’s a time of crazy transition and the accepting of change. I have really begun in the midst of all this to take responsibility for my students on myself. I realized very quickly as I began to try and enter into worship that I was carrying 13 jr highs on my back. I was bearing the load of their experience, feeling like I would be a failure if they didn’t dig in.
It was in a moment of worship, that clear as day, God reminded me of something very important. I was singing a line of the song “God I give it all to you, I lay it all down” and almost as if He was standing right in front of me, God said “but you gotta give me them too”.
With a heaviness in my chest and a sinking feeling in my stomach I knew He was right. Though I have been given the privilege of leading them, these kids do not belong to me. Their salvation won’t be because of me and it is not my job to fix them, only to love them with everything I have, and I do.
The service went on and the pastor spoke, and ended with a call for students to come to know Jesus. Following the request to keep our eyes closed, I did not look around when the Pastor asked for students to raise their hand if they wanted to accept Christ as their saviour. I simply stood and prayed and prayed and prayed. He went on a few minutes later to request that any student who raised their hand and prayed the prayer to accept Jesus come down to the front as a step of faith and act of obedience.
Moments later I opened my eyes and every single one of my students was gone. They had all gone down to the front. Suddenly my eyes filled up with tears, and I knew this was God confirming in me what He had spoken only moments before. Each of my students gave their heart to Jesus that night. Each of them prayed, and worshiped with hands raised and hearts abandoned. These students who didn’t even know Jesus died on a cross six months ago were tearfully, and whole heartedly worshiping him at the altar. It was one of the most peaceful and incredible moments of my life in ministry. God had them. He had had them all along.
I was so busy worried about making things perfect for them that I forgot to release them to the God who is love, who is perfect and who is always working for them. God showed me that night that when I surrender to Him, even my students who I hold nearer and dearer than most anyone in this life, He shows me His power to speak to them and guide them. It all really has very little to do with me, and that’s a beautiful thing.
After jr high conference I went away to Northern Pastors Conference. It was an amazing few days of refreshment and teaching.
The Pastor who spoke this week was incredibly candid, and vulnerable about burn out and how to remain seeking God ourselves as pastors, rather than just aiding others in seeking God.
He mentioned something that stuck with me. He said “just because it’s a common saying or even cliché doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be said”
It got me thinking about all the times I’ve hurt and been struggling or I’ve seen students struggle and hurt themselves and somewhere along the line I convinced myself that telling them to “trust God”, or that “God works all things for good”, or that “God never breaks His promises” is to cliché or common place and won’t help them. And you know what, that’s ridiculous.
Just because something is a common Christian saying or even a commonly quoted Biblical truth does not make it any less powerful in our lives. In fact it has likely become repeated and common BECAUSE it is truth. We say things like this over and over not because they are just easy things to say but because they are Bible written truths that we can choose to declare over the situations we face in this life. We live in a world that is always looking for the “the next best thing”, and so sometimes in life we end up doing the same. We look at our walk with God and the support we receive through these truths being spoken over us, and instead of being appreciative and humble we ask for something better or bigger or new.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that if everyone in your life is “repeating” the same truth over you, it’s likely that it’s probably less a cliché and more that you need to hear it and God is trying to get your attention.
Watching my students meet with Jesus this past weekend was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and you know what? They were called to the front to “surrender” to “give it all to God”. They responded to these exact “cliché Christian sayings” not because they were new and amazing but because they are the truth. There is no better solution in this life for anything we face than to give it to God.
I’m realizing that life with Jesus and life being used in ministry is not about looking for the next best thing, or for building my ego and carrying the spiritual life of students on my back. Life is walking in the dark, trusting that God is leading you somewhere good. Ministry is saying “here I am, send me and use me” and knowing that the outcomes belong solely to God.
So tonight I shout every “cliché” from the rooftops because God IS good, and He IS for me, and that means NO ONE can be against me. I have learnt that when I SURRENDER, God takes what I lay down and makes something incredibly great out of it.
So here’s to the simple truths that make the biggest impact at the end of the day.
Made these tonight <3 #soexcited