God be with my dears
“’i have a feeling that something is going to happen to some of them, and they will never come back to me, or come back changed. well, i can only say, god be with my... [dears]!’
and he was.”
jo's boys | louisa may alcott
Some of my oldest and dearest friends are growing up. Well, all of my friends have been growing up since the day they were conceived, but my point is that some of them have reached the growing-up-and-moving-out stage of their lives. The end of the beginning. They're off! To new cities, new home-places, new friends, and new dreams.
And it is hard to say goodbye, even if you know that these things are the fulfillment of lifetime dreams and it's going to be so good and richly real for them and these are the years that are launching them into the chapter called adulthood. Goodbyes are tricky. Partly "Goodbye my dear friends! I love you! I miss you already! What?! I'm only going to see you at Christmas and during the summer. What? How? Why are you moving three thousand miles away?! I'm going to miss you so bad! Come baaaaack!" and partly "Goodbye my dear friends! I'm so excited for this adventure you're setting off on! I know these dreams are important to you, and these years, used rightly, are going to bring about so much life-good. I love you! And I'm here cheering for you, always!" There were many goodbyes said and hugged and told over and over before we left on our trip. Many “I love you”s and many “have such a wonderful fall”s and “study hard”s and many prayers and hopes.
Once again, Louisa has simply and wisely said the truth that I could not find the words for. I say goodbye to these people, so dear to my heart, and watch them march off into the world, not knowing what will happen to them before we meet again. Likely, quite a lot will transpire and they will not be the same and not seeing them for months will make the changes feel much more significant. I cannot watch the changes come about or follow them in a vain attempt to protect them from harm (they need the good and the bad to make them into better people) or stay in touch so well as when they live in the next town over. But I can pray for them, and ask God to go with them, and know that He will. He always does. And if our God stands with them, who could ever stand against?
And so it is that my friends have packed their bags and left Seattle, landing in new towns in all four corners of the country. Some friends are still here in the PNW, but somehow they too have that “end of the beginning”-ness written in their eyes and souls, and most of them have plans to move away or travel the world.
I cannot say what life will bring in the years to come. But here is something that I do know. You see, I have been given a promise. God will always be with us, throughout all the changes and all the years. Through the school, the break-ups, the mission trips, the jobs, the music making, the falling-in-love, the marriages, the moving away, the dreaming, the babies born, the babies lost, the travels, the lonely years, the cheerios-crunched-into-the-car-seats years, the sitting-on-the-bleachers-at-the-track-meet years, the meals at our kitchen tables, the new jobs, the Christmases, the goodbyes, the living.
And in the end, we will all go home.