This is my third post with the title “Saying Goodbye”, it seems to be a theme over this past year. This morning I said goodbye to my church family because I will be leaving for seminary in a few days.
Leaving your church family behind as you move on is not like saying goodbye to your children, parents, and aunts and uncles. Your relatives will always be your relatives and as they move on in their lives they will let you know. When you come home to visit your church family people will have moved away, gotten married, had babies, or unfortunately passed away. Your Pastor might retire or move to another church. Life is guaranteed to change without you.
As my church family prayed over me this morning I thought back over the past eight years I have spent with them. Growing and learning from them, becoming a better person for having known them. I have led Adult Sunday School, led Adult Bible Studies, designed and ran a children’s program. I have become a lay speaker, and then a certified lay speaker, then taught other lay speakers. I have learned what I am good at and painfully learned what I am not good at. I have rekindled a passion for working with older adults and discovered that I am actually a good administrator. I look back at sermons I gave a few years ago and I can tell I have matured and can deliver a better sermon today than I did six years ago. I have become more realistic in my expectations of people and I have developed a thicker skin when working with people who might be facing battles I know nothing about. I look back on these eight years and know that without my church family I would never have learned so much or come so far.
My family at home has taught me lessons I thought I would never have to learn as well. I have become a single mother; I have lost my only parent and my best friend, my mother. I have discovered that I am capable of forgiving others of offences I never thought I could. I have discovered that my family really loves me more than I ever knew. I have discovered that I raised two very responsible, respectful, and successful young men.
Finally over the last few weeks I have also said goodbye to my family of friends. Friends from college, high school, places I have worked. People I know from spending all my life in one town. So this week it all begins anew. I will do my best to arrive at seminary without any preconceived ideas of what it will be like. I have already met new friends who will be making this journey along with me. People from all over the world and from all different denominations will study with me; we have already introduced ourselves on that wonderful world within a world called Facebook. I look forward to meeting them all in person and I wonder what it will be like to come home and visit. Soon I will develop a new church family and a new family of friends. I promise myself that these new friends will add to my life and add to my family of friends and not replace them.
As I leaveI will listen to the words of Mark Twain who said “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails, explore, dream, discover.”