This weekend is busy. I’m out of town with my team putting on a leadership conference at Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City. We do weekend events several times a year which always involves being around good friends and ministry partners, running around doing last-minute things, meeting people, promoting our events, and generally being ‘on’ 24/7. I enjoy these sorts of weekends -it’s a manifestation of hard work and a picture of what your work does on the field, which is nice to see. If you’re reading this, I’m probably struggling to wake myself up in a hotel room that’s too dark and cold for my own good. This is nothing new in my world but I’ll admit today is going to be a little ‘off’ and there’s a bit of a lump in my throat that’s been there all week.
Today’s the day my sister Britt boards a plane and moves to South Africa. There is nothing but good things in that last sentence. Really. What is more exciting that seeing someone you love find the place their supposed to be? I guess the thing that’s hard is having to share. Having to be okay without her changing into her matching pajamas at eight o’clock at night to serve evening tea in her red and white toile tea set at eight-thirty. The blessing of being with someone is probably one of the gifts that is more often taken for granted because they are just a stone’s throw away living life, something that seems so completely average. Maybe the reluctance for me is because my family hasn’t had a lot of terribly drastic changes over the years. Maybe it’s because even though I’ve been the one to live away, I’ve always been a six-hour drive home and always had access to my family. Maybe it’s just because even though two years fly by, on the days where I need Britt to do a rain dance two years just seems like a lifetime. Maybe it’s because I’m confronted with the reality that in everyone’s story, God is at work and He leads and calls regardless -many times without a time cap on it- even if it makes me a little sad. And that is such a good thing!
This week has reminded a lot of when my sister Elise got married. I had just started my freshman year at college and being without a car, missed out on showers and all the pomp and circumstance of the wedding arrival. I was packed and ready to leave the night before the rehearsal dinner when Elise called me to square away a few wedding details about my arrival the next day. There was a pause and then a few giggles from the two of us, not sure how to end the conversation. I remember saying “I can’t wait to see you tomorrow! And then you’re going to get married!” and Elise laughing and saying “I love you!” and I replied that I loved her too, and hung up the phone. I was checking campus mail and was not ready for the flood of tears that came when we hung up. I cried on my way back to my dorm. That phone call seemed to signal the end of an era, which devastated me, only to usher in almost seven years of the added blessing of growing family -brother-in-law, niece and nephew, new family traditions.
The really uncomfortable moments in life can also be the really good ones. I’m sad only because I love my sister. My rationality says to only be excited but it’s never that simple. I read recently that “joy is grief inside out” -I didn’t really understand how that applied in my life until I thought about Britt and even my phone call with Elise. Joy is sustainable and happiness is not. I rejoice that Britt is moving and thus, ushering in a new era yet again for my family. I rejoice that although my family is scattering and changing, squabbling at times, and dysfunctional, that we love one another. I rejoice for the opportunity to worship one last time and take the Lord’s supper as our home church commissioned Britt last Sunday.
Days like today serve to remind me that while I’m caught up in my busy that can’t always be rearranged, I can pause and think about the little corner of my heart that is a bit frantic and unsettled about the impending change, and say “peace, peace.”
Grateful that Britt has a church that commits to “holding the ropes” for her – I love that quote by William Carey.