The Long Goodbye

The past few weeks have been filled with “Goodbye” get-togethers and send-offs.  So many of our friends have wanted to get together with us to celebrate this new adventure and wish us well.  The outpouring of love and kindness has been overwhelming—and very much appreciated.  At the same time, it’s also been a little strange and uncomfortable for me.

I’ve never really liked goodbyes—especially when I’m the one leaving.  It’s probably because I am, by nature, an introvert.  It’s strange.  I have no fears about standing in front of large groups to speak.  In fact, I really enjoy it.  Yet, at the same time, I am uncomfortable having the “spotlight” focused on me.  It’s probably why I was drawn to playing the bass instead of the guitar.

The way I’ve reconciled this in my own mind is that when I am speaking to a large group, I want the focus to be on the message I am delivering.  The message is in the spotlight.  I’m just the conduit.  Yet, when the focus is placed directly on me, my introvert tendencies kick in and I get very uncomfortable.

Work SendoffThe send-off celebrations started at the office.  There were 3 office-related get-togethers around the time I left my job:  an office lunch for our campus, a post-work happy hour and then a 2nd post work get-together with former colleagues still in the Austin area.

 

Care GroupIn addition to the office celebrations, we’ve had a couple of parties organized by friends that allowed us to celebrate with larger groups of friends.  On top of that, there have been the one-on-one lunches and get togethers.  It has been humbling that so many people sought us out to spend time with us.  I am especially grateful for the incredible offers of support that my wife has been shown as she prepares to navigate the next few months without me.

Ghana TeamOur church family has been great in their support of us as well.  So many have prayed with us and for us.  We have truly been blessed by them.  I know that they will be there to support Amy while I am away.

On top of all this, we had to get our kids back to college.  Last Sunday, we dropped Nathan off at Abilene Christian University for his Sophomore year.  On Tuesday, Adam and I left on the 2-day drive back to Purdue University where he will be entering his Senior year.  Both of them have matured so much these past few years.  It has been great to see them become adults and find their own paths.  As I dropped them off, the fact that I too would be leaving soon got a lot more real.

I’ve also had to say goodbye to some of the foods that I won’t get to have for a few months.  I’ve eaten more than my fair share of Whataburger, Chick-fil-A and Mexican food these past few weeks.  I know, you are probably thinking, won’t they have Mexican food in Israel?  Well, I have a general policy not to eat Mexican food in locations that don’t have “Tex” or “Mex” in their names (sorry California and Arizona).

To those that have organized get togethers we are so very thankful.  To those that took time out of their schedules to celebrate with us, we are honored and grateful.  For those that have blessed us with their prayers, hugs and words of encouragement we love and appreciate you.  For those that asked to get together with us, but we had to decline because we simply ran out of days, we apologize and also thank you for your thoughtfulness, love and support.  We are truly blessed and overwhelmed.

As excited as I am about this adventure and what God has in store, there is one goodbye that I am not looking forward to:  the one when I say “see you later” to Amy when she drops me off at the airport on Wednesday.  To say that “I married better than my wife did” would be an understatement.  This is not my journey.  This is our journey.  From the start, Amy has been with me every step of the way in these decisions.  If it were not for her encouragement, support, commitment and strength, there would be no way I could do this.  Yet, neither of us hold any illusions that being apart for 14½ weeks will be easy.  It’s going to suck…A LOT.  Yet, we put our faith in Him and press on towards the goal.

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