It’s that time again, when goodbyes are inevitable. Across the United States, the school year is drawing to a close and the summer months are about to burst open into a free-for-all of vacations and lazy days, summer school (for some less than excited folks) and summer jobs.
In this time of ending and new beginnings that is both anticipated and unavoidable, there is much going on beneath the surface in our tweens and teens, and maybe even us too. The emotional roller coaster we’re forced to ride can be exhausting and overwhelming, depending upon the severity of the departures and the fear of the future.
Our family is in the midst of such a time as we relocate after 18 years of being rooted in the same community. In the anticipation of our leaving, there is much grieving happening, while also excitement at watching God’s leading unfold. Because this process is unfamiliar and yet unavoidable, I’m all the more sensitive to the fact that each one of us handles the process of change differently. There will be tears and anger, joy and fear, regret and hope—from moment to moment and day to day.
So that leaves me wondering, how do we leave and grieve well?
How can we “be all there,” as missionary Jim Elliot says best, while also preparing for the next step of faith?
Whether you and your girls are ending a school year, leaving a community, facing a move, or embracing a new beginning this summer or the coming fall, there is a dance that comes with saying goodbye to something familiar and hello to something new.
May these steps enable you and your girl to step forward in grace and leave behind a legacy of beauty.
The Dance of Goodbye and Hello
1. Give thanks to God daily.
Every day look for what blessings are underfoot. Thank God for them and ask Him to make this an every day habit for the rest of your life. Appreciate every breath, moment, relationships, experience, because none of it is guaranteed.
2. Tell Others What They Mean to You.
Take the time to tell friends how much they’ve mean and how their God-given uniqueness has made a difference in your life.
3. Take Time to Grieve.
Even if you’re excited about what is happening next in your life, it’s totally normal to feel sad about leaving or moving on. Don’t ignore those emotions but walk through them honestly. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to talk about what you’ll miss. And it’s really good to get with God and share with Him how you’re feeling—especially if you have regrets over what’s unresolved, gone wrong, or wish you would have done.
4. Don’t Pick a Fight.
Probably, the biggest issue is the tendency to get into a fight with friends and family. While it feels easier to leave when everyone is mad, the reality is that makes things harder.
5. Enjoy the Lasts.
Don’t skip out on that last social gathering or opportunity to hang with a friend. Don’t back away from the final commitment. Be all in . . . all there until the last moment, even if there is this feeling in you that makes you want to avoid it. In the long run, you’ll be grateful for the “last” memories made and not regret what you missed out on.
It might seem crazy to think that that God wants you and I and our girls (and sons) totally invested in the moment while also being willing to step out in faith and trust Him for the next step in your life, but life is really a both /and . . .
living and leaving
being present and thinking about the future
grateful and grieving
praising God and depending on God
So the real challenge before us is how will we go about living fully in the moment until that moment fully ends? And how will we go about teaching our girls to do the same?