Goodbyes and Loving Well

I grew up saying goodbye.

I’ve said goodbye more times than I can remember. I rarely ever got to grow up with a friend always next to me because, as a missionary kid, I was either leaving or being left. Work-teams, village trips, state-wide mission retreats… I learned to get deep quickly because I didn’t have long to love them well. I loved the adventure of growing up in my back-yard mission field, but even now, friendships that don’t disappear freak me out.

I wasn’t the only kid and young adult that struggled with the way missions will train friendships to do weird things. While hanging out with a young girl several years ago out in an Alaskan village, she looked at me and sweetly informed me that she’d like to like me but she knows I’ll leave and never come back. No remorse, no bitterness, no hatred; just a very candid insight into missionary friendships.

I never realized the oddity of living that way until people openly started pitying me for not having a “best friend”. Apparently, best friends are something I – especially as a woman – desperately need. Sweet people at the college I attend ask questions like, “Who do you hang with a lot?”

The only answer I can give them seems to be, “The people I’m in front of at the moment?” I’m not trying to be sarcastic, ambiguous or rude… it’s just life. I love the people I regularly fellowship with whom my heart needs and cherishes, but I’m completely “okay” with saying goodbye and connecting with them if and when I get the chance to do so later on.

Saying goodbye and truly meaning it doesn’t seem to happen as often today because of technology. I said good bye to one of my closest friends back in May, and even though we teared up a little bit, we somehow manage to connect at least every other day. Goodbye doesn’t mean what it used to mean.

That said, because of the way my heart formed friendships growing up, I learned to love and pour into the person or people I’m in front of for the moment. They may not be my best friend, or even someone my heart needs… but they’re all I’m pouring into because they’re who God gave me for now. I receive just as much as I give, and God takes care of the rest.

Someone once asked me how I felt about always leaving and seemingly never settling down. Before I was able to babble on unnecessarily, a fellow missionary kid piped up, “She loves who she meets and prays for connections to those her heart needs.”

That is the definition of loving well.

Toxic Compassion

Is compassion ever a stumbling block?

If you had asked me that question 6 years ago, I would have given you the most sarcastic glare known to man. Of course compassion is always right, always loving, always good. Signs of compassion are what has kept my faith in humanity. There’s never a time where compassion may be wrong. … 6 years ago, I would have gone to my grave believing that.

Then my disorders developed chronic –almost never-ending pain.

People with Chronic pain – whether mental, emotional, or physical – get asked the question, “How’s your pain level?” quite often. It’s sweet, sometimes it’s needed, most of the time it’s sincere. I get that. I love that.

I don’t always want to answer it.

There are some days when telling people, “I’m better than I deserve” is truly just a cop out. But most days, that phrase is quite simply the only thing that keeps a smile on my face.

I don’t want my friends to construct their lives around my pain.
I don’t want to think about my pain.
I don’t want to serve my pain.
I need to ignore my pain.

As a believer in Christ, I fully rely on the fact that there is nothing handed to me that I must experience which can be considered “too much to handle.”
My pain, no matter how badly it gets, is never stronger than God. Therefore- I’m better than I deserve.

There are moments when I need someone to let me scream. I’ve been broken spiritually enough to learn I can’t take those moments away from myself; nor can I take those moments away from my friends. There will be days where I’m brutally honest and I will let those closest to me know that the pain inside my body feels as if I’m getting ripped apart. Have no fear, those days will happen.

But for the most part, I need to be able to live ignoring my pain to the best of my ability so I can live.

Asking someone about their chronic pain level is precious. It’s also understandable. But when it gets brought up from someone not in pain, it becomes a stumbling block.

Lovingly, please consider something that most people won’t say, but I have no problem talking about the “taboo” of chronic disorders (grin).

When you ask someone about their pain, you get the answer and then you are allowed to go about your day.

The person in pain is reminded they are in pain and then that is all they can think about. You may not understand how someone in pain can fathom the idea of exerting themselves, but they want to try. They need to try. If they don’t try, they’re serving their pain and they stop living.

Being asked randomly about their pain level forces them to forget their attitude of “I’m gonna do this. I’m fine. God’s good.”

Instead, it reminds them of the fact that they’re in so much pain they shouldn’t’ve gotten out of bed today.

Compassion can sometimes be poison when humans put words around it. Learn to let your hug say more. Learn that sometimes, all that person needs to know is that you know.

Full Heart, Broken Hallelujah

I’m filled with joy unimaginable as I write this. God has been good to me. He is being good to me. I’m surrounded by a level of transparent friendship that I’ve always had, but it took a year away to realize how precious it is. I walk on the Alaskan beach with the mountain range alight with color and I can’t believe this is “normal” for me. This summer has been awesome. But….

My mind often flits to the broken hallelujahs this past year has woven into my life. The things this summer was supposed to involve aren’t far from my heart. I couldn’t be more thankful that this seemingly final chapter of my Alaskan life was written just the way it has been. But there’s the frustration of being an over-analyzer.

But…. But what if, Lord? What if I was wrong in coming back home? What if I was wrong in changing my summer plans? What if the true desire of my heart is only flirted with but never comes true? What if things that either seem to take too long to come Into my life or never will is because of something I’ve done?

What if?

I heard my heart pondering those questions and tears sprang to my eyes but a smile came to my lips. When was the last time I was this honest with my Master, Savior and Lord? When was the last time I looked at a blessing and allowed myself to sincerely be blessed by it, but gave my intimacy with Jehovah enough credence to ask Him to explain it to me when it didn’t quite seem to fit where my life was going?

When was the last time I let Jesus hold my heart, rather than allowing him to simply hold a drawn impression of what I want my heart to look like?

How unstable is my view of my Jehovah-Abba’s love that I don’t want to give our relationship the time to ask questions because I’m afraid of the answers?

When did I grow up and stop depending on the promise that his love is unconditional— even when I can’t see him the easiest and most comfortable way? If my heart hurts, why do I think I have to put that pain into words before he knows how to heal me?

When did the Westernized version of Jesus start infiltrating my ability to hear God when the storms rage?

Oh hallelujah, HE has not changed…