I was spending some time talking with God last night, trying to make a decision. Not really an earth shattering one, but it kind of was. Because I knew that no matter what choice I made, it meant something was coming to an end.
I’ve never been very good at saying goodbye. The first time I realized just how bad I was at it was when I was graduating from college and my friend Ryan came over to my dorm room the night before graduation. He handed me a small gift, wrapped in newspaper. It was a book of devotionals from the Psalms, and he’d written this on this inside cover,
Ahh, how short these four years have been, and how close we have become. My heart is sad, and I have realized how selfish it is to grieve and pity the hours I spent doing other things rather than getting to know more about you. Shall we ever learn? Perhaps for a few minutes.
Thank you so much, Steph, for laughing with me, and thanks for your silence when I was crying. God has given you the gift of compassion and I pray that you will always wear it proudly upon your sleeve.
May your memory be strong and healthy and always remember to crawl under a barbwire fence. So let your belly get dirty, for God made the mud and when it oozes between your toes you have been promised to be cleaned some other time. Bless you.
With His love and mine,
So you can understand that I cried, right? I read that inscription, filled with inside jokes and sweet words from a man who had become such a dear friend and I bawled like a baby. Ryan was a friend who made me laugh like no other.. . A man I could be myself with, because he was himself with me. We went on a beautiful journey together in college and our friendship was one of my sweetest memories of being there.
But I had no words of eloquence for Ryan that night. He and I were in the back room of my dorm suite. A bunch of friends and my two roommates were in the front room, laughing and enjoying their last night on campus. And I just cried with Ryan. He held me and I cried and cried. Because I had to leave. But I didn’t want to.
When I drove away from the seminary five years ago with a car full of my stuff and my belly full of coffee and a crepe from the City Creperie, I thought about my last conversation with my mentor just one hour earlier and how that brought up so many of the same emotions. I just didn’t feel donewith St. Louis yet. I wasn’t ready for ministry… I wasn’t ready to leave the people who’d helped heal me and get me to the next stage of my life. I had to go. But I didn’t want to.
The decision I had to make last night was a sign that things are coming to an end here. I don’t know exactly when and what will happen next, but I know I don’t feel ready. (Sensing a pattern here?) It feels different this time, of course, because there isn’t fear attached to my uncertainty this time. My uncertainty now is simply based in wanting to have the closure I need to move on.
But I am bad at saying goodbye. I am not good at being done. I think this is because my mind and my heart are consistently living in the “what if?” place of my imagination, seeing into both the past and the future, wondering about all the possibilities if I stayed a little bit longer.
I will flounder and blunder my way through saying goodbye. Crying most of the time. Not saying what I want to say. Probably forgetting to say goodbye to someone, and then hurting their feelings. And probably saying the wrong things when people say goodbye to me, because I’m… just bad at this. And the last thing I want to do is not leave well. Not leave feeling some closure.
There has been a lot of beauty in this journey, and the last several months have felt more like a mess. I guess I just want to remember the beauty.