Goodbye, for Now and for Good

goodbye for now

We’re in a bit of precarious place right now, a place well known to many cross-cultural workers. Our future in our current country is very uncertain, just as we finish our first term and head back for our first home assignment. The questions swirl in my mind, in my heart. 

Could we really have spent the last three years acculturating and investing, for this to be it?

I look at what has become home, and wonder if it will still be next year. I consider the kids we’ve poured the gospel into, the teammates we cherish, the many brothers and sisters we love. I think of the hundreds of hours of language study. I’ve found myself soaking up my favorite parts of our country, more than usual, wondering if this will be the last time we play in this forest, or gaze at this sunset over the mountains, or have these sweet friends in our home.

Surely not, Lord.

I waver between the relief and peace that comes from full surrender and mind-numbing anxiety about so many details, even ones as miniscule as our sweet cat and my favorite plants (unashamed plant lady here). But then there are the big details, like my kids and their sense of security, like our partners and their investment, like the people we love and the work we do, like our vision and the carrying out of our calling.

How can we leave, not knowing if we’ll return? How do we say goodbye, not knowing if it’s for now or for good?

Either way I could cope. If it’s for now, we keep pouring into our students, the language into our minds, our hearts into our church plant. If it’s for good, we grieve all of this pouring. We look at our years here and believe it was for our good, for his glory. And we begin dreaming and praying about what is next.

But not knowing? Where does my heart land? Here, or nowhere?

Then I hear the gentle whisper of the Lord: 

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my faith also dwells secure. 

Psalm 16:5-11

He has chosen my portion. He holds my lot. This inheritance, this life in Christ, is indeed so beautiful. I shall not be shaken, because I have set the Lord before me.

This is how we leave. We leave in secure faith, trusting that he has worked out the details and holds our lots. We leave in hope, trusting that the beauty he has given us in this country and in this time is only part of the whole picture. We leave in peace, trusting that as we still set him before us, we will not be shaken. 

But sometimes I am shaking, Lord. Sometimes I feel far from secure. 

But then I hear, again:

He keeps her in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because she trusts in you.

Isaiah 26:3

This morning, I sat in the living room on our couch, basking in the sun, my eldest reading to me, my youngest nursing from me. The anxieties swirled in my mind, but then, I paused. This moment was beautiful. What a privilege to be alive today, what gifts these children are, what warmth and beauty from the sun. 

I trust you. I said to the Lord. Again today, I trust you.

And peace floods my soul like the sunlight floods the room. I don’t know about you, but rarely in my life am I able to surrender something to God on one try, in one instance. Rather, it’s a series of surrenders, daily offerings, again and again saying I trust you which then forms a habit in my heart, in my soul. 

So as we prepare for leaving, unknowing if it’s for now or for good, I am working on forming a habit of trust, again. When all of life is swirling around, so very out of control, let’s today stay our minds on God, who is ever faithful. 

What spiritual habits are you forming as your life circumstances swirl around you?

Photo by Gilbert Timothy on Unsplash

8 Comments

  1. Marilyn June 10, 2019

    I’m in the exact same place. Thank you so much for these beautiful words.

    1. Beth Barthelemy June 11, 2019

      Aw you’re so welcome!! I hope you are able to lean into Jesus during this time as well! Hugs.

  2. Keri June 10, 2019

    Your words resonated with me. We just arrived back in the US for our home ministry assignment, not sure how long we’ll get to be in our country of service after we go back. Those scriptures seem just suited to us, and I’m so grateful to have other women who ‘get it’ – all the paradoxes of missionary life.

    1. Beth Barthelemy June 11, 2019

      Ah yes — all the paradoxes. Also so thankful for my community of missionary women. <3 Hoping you can rest in those sweet words from God!

  3. Spring June 10, 2019

    Isaiah 26:3 is one of my favorite verses. For us leaving this time it is the first time that we have found our future to be more certain. We are supposed to return to the same place and have a set time for our furlough. Honestly it’s the first time in about 6 years. So many unknowns in this life!

    I agree about the series of surrenders!! It is comforting to know I’m not alone in this

    1. Beth Barthelemy June 11, 2019

      Also one of my favorite verses! And I’m not sure why, for so long, I thought that surrendering something took only one moment, when really, it’s a habit. It’s liberating and so much more helpful for me to see it that way. Glad it is for you too.

  4. Vivienne June 11, 2019

    I know that difficulty of living with uncertainty and transition – for our family on and off for about 10 years, now preparing for 4th international move. I feel it is an opportunity (although not always easy!) to trust God more, when earthly things we may take comfort in are changing.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Beth Barthelemy June 11, 2019

      Yes you are so right – these uncertainties and transitions are definitely opportunities to trust God even more. What a great perspective!

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