I have written extensively about my lack of patience. I also lack a good “leaving” ability. Nowhere in my educational experience do I remember any teacher discussing the need to develop a good “leaving” skill in one’s life. And there is no question that I lack that skill. The truth is I now realize how comfortable I get in whatever place or situation I have become familiar with. Whether it be in a little town in southeastern Pennsylvania, a desert town in northwest Arizona or in my hometown of western Kentucky – I simply get used to things quickly and find leaving very, very difficult.
I say all this as Lisa and I prepare to load up our RV and head south for four weeks in central Georgia. Home these last couple of months has been here in Owensboro, our hometown, where our children, parents, and friends live and whom we miss constantly during our travels with Lisa’s work. Leaving those we love, including an adorable grandson, will not be easy. We have learned how to adjust to new areas, meet new friends and acclimate ourselves to new places and surroundings. But we are just not good at leaving.
From Pennsylvania to California we have made friends that we love and miss. In our old Kentucky home resides our family who we miss the most during our time away and who now we find ourselves preparing to leave once again. We simply get too attached too quickly and love people too much to ever overcome this trauma. We just hate to leave.
I remember the sadness I felt as a child when my grandparents would return to their home in Sturgis, Kentucky after spending a week with us at Christmas. The void they left was impossible to fill and I would annually slip into a post-Christmas depression for a few days after they left. Christmas was over, school was on the horizon and people I loved had left. Maybe that has bearing on my poor ability to adjust to leaving one place and go to another. It is true (for me) that uncertainty brings on anxiety and as Lisa and I prepare to live in a strange place for a period of time there is always the fear that we may not fit in – that people will not like Lisa or her work – and that I may not find a place suitable to spend my time. The future is an uncertain black hole where bad things can happen. But the future also brings hope of something really wonderful. Based on all our past assignments we should be elated for our next adventure that begins this coming week. The old hymn is certainly true – “Tis grace has brought us safe thus far – and grace will lead us home.” Christian teacher/theologian John Piper suggests that we should live our lives between those two lines. In other words, based on God’s provision and care for us in the past – we should lose all fear and anxiety of the future. But that is easier said than done.
Lisa and I leave for Stone Mountain Georgia this Thursday and God only knows what we are going to experience in the next four weeks. But we can be assured that the sovereign God, timeless and eternal, is already standing in that future place – one in which we have no knowledge. It is comforting knowing God is waiting for us in that future.
Had we never left home we would have never known about Hanover Pennsylvania or Loma Linda, California. We would have never known about the “Andy Devine Days Rodeo” of Kingman, Arizona or met people along the way that have become dear friends. Lisa and I would never have been scammed out of money for bogus Disneyland tickets in Long Beach California or known the taste of Amish “Whoopie Pies”. Had we not left home we would have never learned how to survive a freezing night in Amarillo, Texas or experience shopping the wholesale district of Los Angeles. The truth is we have had to leave – to live.
So here is to the anxiety of leaving. And here is to another chance to live.
Love, Steve and Lisa