In college I spent a few summers working at a camp among the pine forests of Mississippi. The director worked especially hard to build unity among the staff. By the end of the summer, we had served in the trenches together - comforting homesick junior campers, battling the Mississippi heat, and eating 3 meals a day with a variety of rowdy groups.
I always hated the last day of the summer. Campers had returned to their homes and the staff were sweeping up painted rocks and packing up cabins. The goodbyes were difficult, emotional and excessively uncomfortable. One year, I remember packing up my car and just driving off. I didn't say goodbye to anyone. I just left. I was tired of goodbyes.
There is a temptation after a number of years of 'here a summer, there a summer, here a few years, there a few years' to just stop investing. Roots are hard to pull up. And sometimes it feels easier to stick in the shallow soil. I've made that choice a few times in various places but I've always regretted it in the end.
This past Sunday we said goodbye (for now) to our Crossroads family. We knew from the onset we'd only be with them for around a year. But their friendship and community was irresistible. I couldn't help putting down roots. How could I with women like Mrs. Billie to teach me to make caramel icing, my Senior High girls who keep me young, Greyson to tell me jokes and that hilarious group of young marrieds to share baby stories with? They didn't shrink from investing in me, even with the knowledge that we'd soon be miles away. They invested lavishly. I am so grateful they did.
It's been a good reminder to me in these times that are so rapidly changing. The next few months will hold many new faces and a variety of exciting places...and I have a choice to make. I can live in their midst with a half hearted, albeit safe, interest or I can pour out my heart into their lives, knowing that the joy will be mingled with the pain of more goodbyes.
Clenched fists are my default in life. Thankfully, they are not Christ's. And He is changing me...bit by bit, season by season.