Saturday, May 12, 2012

May - Forever My Month of Good-byes

The month of May forever will be my month of painful good-byes. For as far back as I can remember, my life has been full of good-byes to places, and more importantly to people I have been blessed to love. This year this season of good-bye has hit me harder than it has in many, many years…

One of the greatest lessons I have learned as a ministry wife is to not allow hurts that can often come with the territory to keep me from continuing to love, invest and care for others, and even trust, yes, trust others. I’ve seen how the lack of such things has affected others and I have to constantly remind myself of the greatest call on my life - to love God and thereby actively love others. I have refused to erect walls, though the enemy would like to have me believe it’s a safer bet to do so. I have worked hard at not allowing opinions of others who really don’t know me or care to know me or my story to determine the distance I keep between me and others.

Three years ago we moved to our present location in the Midwest after 18 years in one location and over 25 years on the East Coast. We had developed amazing friendships and accumulated a lot of memories. Long story short, moving was extremely difficult. The friends we had knew us, our history, our children, watched our family grow, watched us go through our share of ups and downs in life and ministry, and…they loved us through it all.

One of the biggest blessings in our life has been the fact that everywhere we have lived we have left behind the kind of friends that we could easily and without effort reconnect with at anytime, not skipping a single beat. They became family. I will admit moving was frightening because it was like starting all over. It was similar to walking into school as a new junior high student or a high school/college freshman. No one knew us and sadly people can so easily establish opinions and perceptions from afar which are misinformed, incorrect. We were going to be outsiders, scrutinized from a distance. People didn’t know who we were, our history, things we had gone through…our story. And it is at this point I had a very critical choice to make. Either I would risk loving and trusting again in this new place or I would remain withdrawn and isolated. Here is the thing...One can appear loving. One can appear to invest in others. One can even appear to trust others, but in reality, one may just be playing with a poker face. Sadly, people are really talented at creating masks for protection or particular situations so as to not allow others in. Naturally, I am really bad at wearing masks. What you see is generally what you get. No poker face here. But, do I have the potential to be overly guarded? Sure. Everyone does. Glad to say less so as I age, yet starting all over again, I knew I couldn’t and didn’t have time to have my guard up if I had any expectation of developing meaningful life on life relationships…I needed them. It took me too long to risk dropping my guard and deconstructing my walls from the early years. I had no intention of doing that again. So my decision was made. I would ask God for discernment remaining open to loving others along the way, trusting that as I loved others people would see my heart for them and not my past hurts, that somehow God would bring precious people in my life for me to love on and be loved by. Glad to report…HE HAS.

So why did I start this blog talking about good-byes? Well, May has been the month of many goodbyes. The most painful one has been the good-bye to my mother and best friend 24 years back. God has been faithful to remind me and often of the amazing woman she was in life and how her legacy as a lover of others and selfless individual continues. Well, this month, I have another good-bye to add to the many others. This one is tough for multiple reasons. The past few years have been some of the most painful and difficult times in my life. Yet, in God’s amazing way, He brought a friend into my life who has been beyond a blessing – a true gift. She has listened, encouraged, exhorted, inspired, loved me with tear-felt affection, cared enough to get to know my story, laughed with me (with her beautiful laugh) and has held in confidence the deep things of my heart, a rare thing to find in this day and age when gossip abounds often under the guise of concern. I have trusted her. And in turn, I believe she has trusted me – a gift which she has given me…her trust. She has encouraged my walk with the Lord when all I wanted to do was give up on trusting Him through what frankly at times seemed unbearable. She encouraged me to keep loving, giving, serving, and persevering through her hugs, smiles, and kindness. I was brutally honest with her because I could be and she loved me still. She has held my heart so gently and lifted it up to the Lord on my behalf more times than I can recall. How? How did I deserve such a friend? That’s just it, I didn’t. Yet, my Lord, because of His precious love and care for me knew I, being human, required a trusted friend who would walk with me through a most challenging time in my life, being my Aaron (Exodus 17:12), holding my arms up in battle and as I continued to serve. He orchestrated our meeting and He has now…ordained the time of our parting.

My friend will be moving away. I am so happy and excited for her and her family. I am thrilled God is taking them to a place they love, a place where they can continue to have an impact for the Kingdom, a place where they can continue the disciple-making process by pouring into the lives of others who they befriend and encounter along their way. I pray that I brought something to her life as well that she can take with her and recall from time to time – and smile. I pray she remembers there is someone across the country adoring her, who is forever grateful for what she has given…a real genuine and trusted friendship, a rare gem, a refuge.

Dear friend, the verses below bring you to mind. I hope I have adequately expressed them all through the past few years during our tea times and the hours we have spent together. You are dear to many and the funny thing is…I also knew you would be dear to the many students you have cared for and for a season been entrusted with (I TOLD YOU SO) – I hope you have discovered things about who God equipped you to be by serving along with us. Watching you all grow as you have invested and been an integral part of the lives of others has been a great joy. As you head out to your next great adventure, I hope you know I will only be a phone call or text away…And though I have to say goodbye yet again to a cherished friendship, as a piece of my heart travels across this country, I know having loved you, I am the better for it. You have added preciousness to my life!

A friend is someone who understands your past,
believes in your future, and accepts you today.

Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 - True Friends Strengthen and Help Each Other
Proverbs 27:17 - Friends Shape and Sharpen One Another
Proverbs 27:9 - Counsel from a Friend is Pleasing
Proverbs 18:24 - Faithful Friends are a Rare Treasure
Proverbs 17:17 - Loyal Friends Love Through Difficult Times
Proverbs 20:6 - Reliable Friends are Hard to Find

No comments: