I don't know how it happened this way, but all of sudden, during my friend Bethany's commissioning service (she and her family are leaving for Guatemala), I realized that I was going to have to say my goodbyes in a long and not-so-private receiving line at church. Time had slipped away and there was no more of it left. My friend Sarah caught the moment. I cried and cried.
No more early morning Wednesday heart-sharing and and group-praying with Bethany in the mix (at least not in person- we'll try and Skype her in). No more of her vegetable soup when I'm out of commission. No more delicious chocolate vegan cookies at our gatherings on the river. No more sweet Bethany to balance us out. No more kind Paul playing throwing a ball with the kids.
Times they are a-changing.
In fact, five families from our little community of faith have now moved away within the space of a couple of years. It feels so different.
It feels so uncomfortable.
I know the Lord has good things planned. I know He's leading us well- I taught my 3rd-5th graders about His good and trustworthy leadership this morning. Even though this season will be a new and different season, it will still be good because He's in it, working- always working. I think it's just the grief for what's gone that's getting in my way.
Thankfully, I sat at my dining room table on Friday night with some new friends. Katie and her husband Aaron are ten years younger and brand new to Shreveport with brand new jobs and a fresh joy for what's ahead. Through the course of conversation, she shared her favorite verse without knowing how badly I needed to hear it:
"Forget the former things;Even now as I look it up, I realize that this comes from the same chapter of Isaiah from which Bethany sang last Sunday. As she stood up front and as our eyes met, my heart just kind of broke up a little as she sang. "Be not afraid, for I have redeemed you. Be not afraid, I have called you by name."
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19
It's true- I need not be afraid all is lost. The kind of love created between friends over home cooked meals and prayers doesn't just evaporate with distance and time. It'll always be there, blessing with its past memories, present affection, and hope for future reunion.*
See, he is doing a new thing. Be not afraid.
*Lydia and Rendi (just to name a couple), you are proof positive! And as a side note, I'm so thankful for those of you who are going through this season still WITH me- you know who you are!