I remember the day well. Our church friends came and helped us pack up most of our belongings into a truck that was too small but somehow expanded in a quasi-loaves-and-fish sort of way. It was hard. And the next day, we left. Our family went on a new adventure.
Now it’s your turn. Five years later, those same church friends have now packed up your family and sent you off on a new adventure. I know your emotions. I’m tearing up right now remembering them so well, but remembering them from the other side.
You see, I know that you know it’s a God thing. Sure there is uncertainty and sure you question the decisions and the facts and the craziness of it all. But deep down, you know it’s a God thing and it’s really hard to explain it well to other people. Especially to the people who have loved you through hard things. Especially to people who have prayed you through hard things. Especially to the people who have loved your children and helped raise them and change their poopie diapers. Yep, I remember those hard emotions. But I know it’s a God thing.
And being on the other side of that God thing, I see you setting off on this new adventure and I remember and I cry and I smile because God is so good. God is so faithful. God keeps those promises that you thought you heard in the middle of the night prayer time whispers when you couldn’t sleep and there was nothing else to do but pray because the tears had been cried out.
But warning, my friend – there is still a lot of hard to come. There is still a lot of grieving to come. There is still a lot of “are you sure we did the right thing? I think we made a huge mistake” to come. Sometimes those moments come when you expect them. Seeing gatherings of your “old friends” on Facebook and wishing you were there. Having milestone moments in your family’s life and wishing your friends were with you. Those moments, you expect them and somehow you’re prepared to deal with the emotions.
It’s the unexpected moments that will get you. Like when you’re wandering in a new grocery store with the kids and can’t find that one snack they had at your friend’s house and you realize you can’t just text her and ask what aisle the darn snack is in because she doesn’t know the new grocery store. Like making a new friend and laughing at her joke and feeling bad because it’s not your old friend. Like ordering rice and beans for your child at a mexican restaurant and remembering when your babysitter complained because of the diapers that always resulted. Like sitting in a movie laughing and then starting to cry because you just know your old Sunday School class would’ve found it hilarious too. Yep, those unexpected moments will take you down.
But God will raise you up. And I don’t say that lightly but with all seriousness and hope for your family. Now, looking back, I see how we are in the exact right place. I see how God weaved so many pieces of our lives together for this new place. I see how God used friendships and experiences and love from our time together to grow me into who I need to be now. I see how learning from you and many others makes me a better pastor to the people before me.
So friend, feel the emotions. Grieve the loss. Explore the sadness. Seek the joy. Cling to your husband (because I know that mine was all I felt like I had some days and it’s made our marriage stronger and better and he’s WAY less of an emotional mess than me). Reach beyond what you think you are capable of. Be a safe and stable place for your kids (because they’ll feel all you are feeling too). Lean on God with all you’ve got because God’s got this in ways that you don’t even know yet.
And when you need an understanding ear, remember, I’m just a click or text away with a five-year perspective. You’ll make it because it’s a God thing. Remember that.
And oh. P.S. Those friends are still loving you and praying for you and cheering you on. Now they are getting the joy of watching God work some cool stuff out for you and your family. Trust me. They won’t go anywhere and they’re still there when you need them.