Thursday, December 17, 2015

Virginia is for Lovers

Every license plate tells you that "Virginia is for lovers" as you drive through the rolling hills of Virginia.  I hope it's true because I do not believe there is a life more fulfilling than that of being a lover and I'm moving to Virginia in 11 days.

As I am saying goodbye to a different person or group of people every day I am shocked at the amount of pain that I am experiencing.  People who I didn't know four years ago have woven themselves into the tapestry of my heart and have changed me.  I will never be the same.  As we went through life together I didn't recognize the depth of our relationships and now that I am moving across the country I am suddenly realizing just how much I have invested in loving so many amazing people.

I was kind of a "Jesus freak" Christian as a teenager -- a "radical" Christian and remember reading this quote back then. 
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
I remember at the ripe old age of 14  (only radical Christian types study CS Lewis at the age of 14) making a promise to myself that I would always choose to love completely...  that I would make myself vulnerable and dive into relationships and not hold back.  Because I didn't want my heart to become impenetrable or irredeemable.

And so that is how I have lived my life.  Reckless abandon, deep relationships, getting all tangled up in the lives of the people around me.  Messy, hard sometimes, meaningful, sometimes annoying, always worth it.     I wouldn't want it any other way.

And so I am reminding myself during my last two weeks in Minnesota that it is a good thing that people cry at the thought of my departure.  It is a blessing that I am grieving so much that I'm afraid to start crying for fear that I will never be able to stop.  It is a blessing that I have mattered to people and it is even more of blessing that I have had so many who matter to me.

Who wants to leave a place and have nobody cry?

Today is my staff going away party.  These people hold a very big part of my heart.  We have transformed a branch together.  We have worked side by side through really hard and intense times and we have celebrated sweet, God ordained moments.  We have seen pain and grief so deep that it is hard to explain and we have watched miracles unfold in front of our eyes.   We have worked as a team... we have invested in one another, and, even though it is not work appropriate, we have loved one another.  Deeply. 

The members of my board have become dear friends.   The families that I have worked with here in MN over the years.

And then there are my beloved friends at church who I have worshipped with, made music with, cried with, laughed with.   And there are my UEC connections.   And of course, my mom, my kids, my grandkids.... the lady who serves me my ice tea at McDonalds every morning on my way to work... the list is endless.

I'm reminding myself today as I anticipate the pain that this is a decision I made as a teenager.... that this is the way I want to live.  That I never want to fear the pain so much that I don't ever get the joy that comes with relationships that are deep, invested, meaningful. 

The pain that I am experiencing now is a byproduct of the life I have chosen.   And I will leave here and the day I arrive in Virginia I will dive in and do the same thing all over again.  Because this is who I am, this is the life I have chosen, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

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