We left people and place yesterday. Leaving someplace and saying goodbye to someone pulls on our heart strings, often pulling to the point of breaking. Like a friend of mine said yesterday, we aren’t sure what’s happening but it’s like we’re sweating from our eyes 🙂 Tears. Goodbyes. Despedidas. Sometimes it feels like they’re the destination of every good thing, and so our heart strings prepare themselves for the pull. We don’t want it to end.
So we try to extend the life of things. We think we can make really great experiences last – box them up, print them out or Instagram them. Keep them, maintain them, retain them. Deep connections with other people can be forged through short, intense, life-escape times of fellowship as well as years on years of life lived. Both are legitimate, good community with impact and we long for it to be lasting. But the longevity of a good thing is not what makes it valuable or worthwhile. The goodbye, transition, and, might we call it, grief that comes with the end of something is real. But life is a succession of seasons and changes.
Things in life are given in and for seasons, aren’t they? We should expect change and movement and instability. And we should also expect depth and joy and love given and love received. The inevitable change does not exclude the possibility of joy and depth. Because the value of an experience or community is not necessarily determined by the longevity, but by its very essence. Community is often a gift for a season and it should be received well, with all our hearts, knowing that if it’s not designed to last a long time, that doesn’t decrease or diminish the value and goodness of it. We should not underestimate the value and impact we can have on one another even if it is a short time. Just because it’s not something that will remain for a lifetime doesn’t mean it is not real, that there is not significant impact, or that we should not engage fully. My heart fights against that concept because my mind says “why invest yourself if you know you’ll have to leave, they’ll have to leave, and it will be sad and hard? Only invest if you know something will last, Rebecca. Avoid all that hurt.” But many times the value is not in the lasting.
We have one unchanging thing in life: the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17). Everything else changes, and even when we return to something familiar like family or a dearly-loved city, we are different or our circumstance is different or our friends are different. We are never in the exact same position in life ever. So we must cling onto the One Unchanging, and acknowledge the rest as good gifts, not forcing temporary or seasonal things to be something they aren’t.
So I leave some people who quickly became dear to my heart. I leave overflowing with joy, a sense of family, and grateful for the time and the people and what we were to each other during this short time! This time the sweat from my eyes, my tears of leaving, stem less from grief of something lost or of a desire to hang onto it and try to recreate it. Instead my tears are more of an overflow of joy, love shared, lessons taught and learned, and thankfulness for what this time and people have been. They aren’t sad tears this time, they’re tears welling up from a heart overflowing. Sometimes tears are simply emotions running over, my cup running over.
Everything with thankfulness.