You know how you are cleaning the refrigerator because your three-year old turned that irresistibly fancy dial to OFF and all the food went stinky and because you’re already cleaning a mess you pull out the stove too and wash the floor and then the wall behind the stove because yuck and before you know it you are ordering new carpet and looking at paint samples?
No? Just me?
I’m writing this in the midst of a big move, in the midst of a big mess, in the midst of big feelings and big change and big long days of sorting, cleaning, and packing, and I find myself jumping from one thing to the next, like the frantic scattering of the grasshoppers before me as I walk the old dirt road behind my house. My hands are packing winter clothes into boxes while my heart is tucking away a dozen years of memories and my head is computing the days and hours and minutes left until I drive away from this home and head west toward another.
I’ve learned some things about goodbyes in these moves I’ve made. This isn’t my first dance, you see. I’ve moved and moved and moved around the dance floor, from city to country to town to village to farm, and like any dance, I’m better at it for the practicing.
This time, I’m slow dancing. I’ve days ahead – months, actually – of preparation. Days of packing a box here and selling a no-longer-needed thing there and taking load after load of life-clutter to the dump. Days and days of it, and I’ve realized how few of these bits and pieces that I have lived with for years are truly precious. It’s not been very hard to move these things along, and I’m surprised by that.
I have a few treasures: some baby things and the lumps of handmade clay vases and the this’s and that’s of our lives as a family. Mostly, I am finding freedom and joy and deep inhales of fresh breath in letting go. Goodbye, books that haven’t been read in years. Goodbye, old stacks of crafts I never got around to doing. Goodbye, all those things I have been holding on to “just in case.”
I kiss them all farewell and wish them well in their new homes.
Yet, while the letting go is easier than I expected, the anticipation of new hellos is much more difficult. This surprises me, too, because I wished for this adventure. I began it all with prayer and a conversation with my husband, and a “would anyone like to rent our house for a year” post on our little community online Garage Sale page.
The thing is, it’s not quite the adventure I was expecting. It’s not the smooth transition to the familiar community – listening to my friend preach every Sunday, living among those I’ve known for years, sharing sweet coffee visits and slipping seamlessly into comfortable ministry – that I’d kinda sorta had tucked away in the back of my mind.
FYI, when you pray for an adventure, God might choose one for you.
He’s so funny, isn’t he? He’s a bit of a prankster, even. Just ask Abraham about unplanned adventures. Or Esther, or Ruth, or David, or just about anyone else whose story is told in scripture. God is the master adventure-bringer, I’ve learned, and so between the Holy Spirit and a bunch of prayer, I know it will all be grand.
I’m learning to say graceful goodbyes, this time around, and I am grateful. I’m learning to lean into the anticipation of unknown adventures, and I am grateful. God is so good. I am so blessed to be his daughter. Wherever he leads, I’ll follow.