When saying goodbye is painful, it means that we’ve done something right while we were together. It makes the pain seem more purposeful, but not less intense. It still hurts like open-heart surgery minus the anesthesia.
I’ve said goodbye so many times within the last couple weeks, I think my heart has shut down until it can find time to process them all. I’ve hardly been able to cry. I suspect there are tears buried inside that need to find their way to the surface one of these days in the near future.
I didn’t expect saying goodbye to Lee to be so hard. There were more than a few moments over the last four years when I didn’t want to be there. But looking back, I am grateful for each of those broken and beautiful moments. God gave me what I did not know to ask for. My experiences at Lee have shaped who I am, peeled back the layers of who am not. They have been years of formation, laying foundations, establishing myself within the Father’s heart. Learning to trust Him has enabled me to embrace my own heart with all its messy spots and insecurities and allow God to show me what I love and give me the confidence to live within it.
Being so far from the comfort of home has forced me to find God in new ways, to recognize that His love and character stay the same even when circumstances and worship environments feel strange and unfamiliar. I’ve learned that God was never small enough to fit inside my boxes. He loves so many different things, and there are infinite ways to approach and find Him.
But the strongest thing I unlocked during my time at Lee is my love for words. There I became a writer. And the voices and faces of my peers and professors in my writing community will be forever etched into my heart and will bleed out in my words. I found people who believe in me, who were willing to invest in my life and my stories. Stacey, my writing professor, lost sleep and sacrificed her own writing time to aid her students to succeed, and she cried as she talked to my parents at graduation and hugged me goodbye. That was the moment when I knew God had given me something beautiful.
Right now, I’m relishing in the beauty of these gifts and simultaneously mourning the loss of them. They are not gone, because I carry them inside me, etched into my identity and my stories. But they are no longer with me the same way they have been—the reason I need to cry, to adjust, to allow God to carry me on to seasons next.