The Monday evening started like any other. However, when my husband called his work to say he was running late, the response was unlike any other. His supervisor, who doesn’t work the same shift, answered. He requested that Jack arrive as soon as possible. So my husband hurried to get ready and jokingly said as he left, “I hope they aren’t closing us down.”
When Jack arrived that night around 11 p.m., there were several new faces: two vice presidents, a representative from human resources and the local ops manager. They came to communicate the company’s decision to close the Dallas operations. Their plan involved mostly severance packages and a few transfer positions.
Within a month, my husband was offered, and accepted, a relocation package to Atlanta. He packed his bags and headed east – alone. Our son is a senior in high school, so he and I stayed behind in Dallas to finish out the school year. Our small family was now divided by 800 miles.
Our lives changed on a dime that night. The company’s decision did not just affect our lives and the lives of my husband’s co-workers but also those of our families, friends, livelihoods and communities. My husband left his family to pursue work. Our son will leave either his friends or his family to pursue his college education. I will leave my job of a decade, my ministry and most importantly the people I love.
I have established roots in this place. My life intertwined with so many others. It happened innocently and over time. It happened while we were shopping and working. We got to know each other through studying the Bible and serving on mission trips. We enjoyed Saturday afternoons living next door to one another and watching our kids play baseball. We grew simply by seeing each other every day at the Chick-fil-A drive-thru.
These relationships aren’t a simple mix. They’re not easily unwound or undone. Our lives are forever marked by one another. We are changed because we have shared our innermost thoughts and emotions. We have worked alongside each other for a common purpose. We have exchanged lighthearted, free-spirited bursts of laughter and excitement. We have sat in shock and grief as we have mourned those we have loved and lost on this earth. We have shared sadness, transitions, marriages, births and tears. We have shared in the Lord’s Supper, tasting His goodness. We have worshiped Him mightily throughout it all. Our moments have been filled with the grace and presence of our Lord. It is that which strengthens our bond to the point it cannot be broken.
It struck me recently that I may never see many of these people again. When I drive down I-20 and head east for Georgia, it may be the last time our earthly lives cross. There is a sadness to this reality that leads me longing to do what is comfortable and seemingly secure. But I have been called to leave what I love.
When I consider this idea, I think of what Jesus might have felt or thought as He sat in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was preparing to leave behind the 12 men he had walked closely with, ministered to and with, cared for, knew personally and intimately and loved. He was leaving behind his relationships, submitting His will to the will of the Father. I am not comparing my leaving to our Lord’s, but I take solace in knowing that He knows what it’s like to leave.
I also know that there is hope – a hope that exists because He did leave. He left behind this earth in His death, but He defeated death in His resurrection. One day He will return, and we as fellow believers will see each other once again. We are stuck with each other. Our common faith in God, the bond that strengthens our relationship here on earth, binds us together for eternity. And in that place, our moments will not be spent in sadness or longing but in worship and praise of our King.
You never really leave those you love. Until I see you again, wherever that may be, may the Lord bless you and keep you; may He make His face shine upon thee and give thee peace.