Boy, have I got a lot rolling around in my head and heart right now.  They’ve been on the edge of explosion in the past two weeks for a whole lot of reasons, which I’m sure will come out over the next six weeks as we prepare to leave our seminary community and head to our next season of life.  I will ask your patience in advance as I will probably process that transition through writing as I have time, and I’m not completely sure it won’t devolve into emotional drivel at the rate I’m going right now.

On Wednesday night, we said goodbye to some wonderful friends who began their trek home to the Pacific Northwest Saturday morning.  I was doing fine the entire time until I watched the girls’ grandparents bid them farewell.  They had been in town for graduation and were heading home the next day to await the rest of the family’s arrival after their long road trip.

But as I stood there listening and watching their grandmother talk to these two precious girls, I got choked up.  My emotional swell was caused by my soul-deep regret that they weren’t listening to both of their grandmothers.  This fall my friend’s mother passed away after an excruciating battle with pancreatic cancer.  And in this brief moment, I was overcome with emotion recalling the diagnosis, the treatment, and the suffering.  Everything that happened within the few years she’s been in my life.  I thought about the tears that our whole bible study cried together both in her presence and in prayer for her when she was at her mother’s side for two months this fall.  It was sacred ground that we were privileged to tread, and it all came flooding back to me in that moment.

Births.  Successes.  Answered prayers.  Healing.  Victories. 

Infertility.  Miscarriages.  Heath problems.  Financial difficulties.  Marital crises.  Deaths. 

In the past three years, I’ve felt the weight of it all from living in community here at seminary.  I’ve had the sacred opportunity to weep and rejoice with those around me, and they walked with me through my own health concerns, personal trials, and joys. 

As I said goodbye to my friend, I began to feel a familiar tear in my chest that will become more pronounced in coming days.  It comes from knowing the end of a season is near and that separation from all that it has meant will not be easy.  Closure will not come neatly tied with a bow, and I need to let myself feel the pain of loss. 

The pain means it was real.  Things are only pried apart if they have been bound, and so it is with my heart. 

I guess I could have kept it all at bay for three years.  I might have escaped unscathed, but my attempts at self-protection would have resulted in an isolated heart.  And no matter how brief our season here, I am certain that is not what God had in mind.

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.  Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters.  Increase in number there; do not decrease.  Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.  Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”  ( Jeremiah 29:4-8 )

Investment of my time, my energy, my heart.  That’s what God asked of me in this season and what He asks of me in the next.  He doesn’t promise any of it is forever.  He doesn’t promise ease or comfort.  He promises growth.

It’s a risky thing to “settle down” in the new thing God has for you.  It means you have to be sure of Him when you’re not yet sure of it.  And when He calls you on again, your soul must remember that stops on this pilgrimage are never without cause.

I sit here tonight with the heart-tearing only just begun again, but I am grateful. 

For I have loved and been loved.