All my life, I’ve fought against putting down roots because it hurts to get yanked up again. How many times can I be transplanted and still grow and thrive in each new environment? Every move, every new house, every friend, every favorite everything- I’ve struggled through the new until it becomes normal and then I say goodbye. A bit of my heart has been left behind, and yet I find that my heart keeps beating, my heart keeps loving, and it keeps putting down roots, however hard it may be.
This last season of my life has been the longest stretch of living in one place in my entire life. 9 years in one town, 8 years in one house. It’s a new struggle I face. Because now I see the other side of this transitional life, of living in a foreign land, making other foreign friends and welcoming new foreign friends to my foreign home which has become normal and has developed deep roots.
Those friends leave. They pull up their roots and move, whether they want to or not. They hurt, they grieve, they pack and sort and sell and cry, and all I can do is get my hands dirty as we sort together and cry together and listen as they share.
The hardest part is, that moving to a foreign land, away from a birth country, away from people who look like you, act like you, eat like you and talk like you- the hardest part is that the move overseas was made with such intentionality, with such a deep spirit of obedience born out of love for our Jesus, and a desire to help others who have not had such a privileged life as ourselves. It’s a move made from wanting to be a change, be a light, be an earth-mover and a Kingdom-builder. I know that none of our moves have been made lightly.
We have all sacrificed being able to “fit-in”, being able to attend weddings and funerals and new babies.
We have all let go of some traditions, of family holidays, good medical care, and being a part of the community that we once knew.
We have all stepped out in faith that God will provide all our needs, whether it’s finances, or schooling and friends for our children, a place for Christian fellowship.
And yet, I’ve said my goodbyes in this last year to friends whose very ministry has been threatened by people they came to help, I’ve said my goodbyes to friends who have experienced a deep disconnect between their skills and their passions and the realities of their jobs. I’ve said my goodbyes to friends who have been wounded, been burnt out, who have obediently listened to God’s gentle call to a new place. I’ve said goodbye to friends and family, my very own mission family, who have been called home by a total shift in their organization, brought about by extremely frustrating circumstances.
The work isn’t done. All people have not yet had a chance to hear the news of Christ. My mentors didn’t have a chance to pass on to me all that I wanted to learn, all that I needed to learn. None of these goodbyes have been planned. Not one of them has been easy. Not one of them has gone without tears and grieving for loss of normal and what could have beens.
I don’t want to say good bye again. It hurts. I struggle to continue putting down roots in a place that hurts of leaving and loneliness and wondering who will be next.
But God in His sovereignty does not waste a goodbye. He does not waste pain, or tears, or grief, or loss of normal. He doesn’t waste a vulnerable spirit, a heart that recognizes once again that the life that we have built to be comfortable around us keeps us from letting Him have total control. As we say goodbye to our self-sufficiency, and our plans, and our control and our comforts, He has the space He needs to move.
I know He will move. I know that all my friends and family who are facing a new life are scared and hurting and vulnerable, but God can move in those raw hearts. He will provide in ways that shout His glory and further His Kingdom and touch other people in ways that would never have happened if the painful had not happened if we had not said goodbye.
But the tears still fall.