The rain was beating against the tin roof above my head and I stood outside under the awning staring at the giant splashes created in the puddle by the drainspout. I love the sound of rain. This time as I stood and watched walls of rain pour toward the house I allowed myself to cry a bit (a luxury I really ought to allow to occur more often). The tears down my cheeks were subtle compared to the downpour outside but my heart mirrored the weather that day.
It’s leaving season for us. Usually such seasons are as predictable as the rain, occurring in early summer and we steady our heart for them. In this world of ex-patriot living often there is high turnover of folks coming and going and we say hello, and goodbye often. Relationships go deep quickly and then they leave quickly. But this leaving season occurred a bit unexpectedly. Many in our community relocating, leaving, or changing their seasons or involvement in our lives all at once so my tears echoed the rain that day.
The rain settled down to a light drizzle and I wandered inside to start dinner and drape the not very dry clothes on the back of the chairs and over all the couches. My eldest helped me and chattered as she did so. She chattered about all things lego related, and the book she was reading, she talked about the mud and how silly her baby sister was and her ever expanding vocabulary then she said, “Mom sometimes I don’t want to make friends because I don’t like saying goodbye…but then I realize my heart needs them.” She then kept talking about her legos…
The words gave breath and life to my tears, my heart needs others so it’s worth the loss.
I walked outside barefoot in the next storm that rolled in, ran was more like it. Trying frantically to save the clothes from getting wet once again… I yanked soggy clothes from the line as the mud squished between my toes and the water poured from my hair. I let out a loud sight, the rain is so needed here for crops to grown, for grass to feed the cows but my laundry…it was the fifth day I pulled it in dripping from the line and tried to hang it up…my house was messy from wet clothes, my time felt so limited as I hung them all up again and again and again and I was frustrated and mad at that life giving rain. So with water running down my clothes and mud splashing up on the clean ones I let out a proclamation of frustration which I knew the rain would drown out and kicked the bucket of muddy, wet clothes.
I stomped into the covered porch and stuffed them back in the washing machine bitterly thinking of rehanging them all again. The thought that flashed into my head was, “I wish I hadn’t washed them at all!” and I threw my now muddy wet clothes in along with them and stomped inside to make tea. I watched the rain with bitterness from my chair as I read out-loud spelling words.
W-man oblivious to my angry laundry moment let out a sigh of delight. “Oh mom, the plants will be so happy…they needed the rain.”
It was the phrase needed that stuck out to me. How is it that I could be so angry at this needed thing, how is it that God created us with the need for friendship, community, connection, and dreams and yet for seasons asks us to then say goodbye to them.
I finished reading the spelling words and did a grammar lesson. As the rain continued to pour I asked if the kids would like to watch a show and they eagerly gathered around a bowl of popcorn and snuggled under blankets. As I cleared the table I thought more about the rain and “leaving season”
I don’t know what “leaving season” looks like for you where you are living. Perhaps it is coming in the form of death, and the hardness of that final goodbye. Perhaps it is coming in the form of leaving behind a dream or ideal, perhaps it is a friendship gone wrong and the adjusting of expectations and hope, perhaps it is a friend moving across country or nations, but for me each time it occurs it makes me wonder if I should pull back so the sting is less, or delve in less deeply so the goodbye doesn’t hurt. But then, as my eldest put so well sandwiched around discussions of lego creations… “I realize my heart needs them.”
Courage for me this season looks like crying in the rain, it looks like choosing to be real and deep and love with passion those friends I know are leaving. It means loving well and deeply and using those ever painful goodbyes as a reminder that I loved and was loved well. It means relishing messages from across the miles from friends I’ve journeyed through leaving season with already and reminding myself that sometimes goodbyes are ok, and sometimes they lead to even great depth as friendships continue across miles, boundaries and cultures. Sometimes God even uses distance to draw us together because He isn’t limited by time or space.
It rained again today, a light sprinkle. It is so needed…but friends MY LAUNDRY. Friendship for me is like the rain. Needed, life giving, pointing me to Jesus but it hurts so much to say goodbye. The stories I tell myself sometimes to make it hurt less is, “you don’t need them…you are fine by yourself”, or “just quietly stop trying to be their friend now…it will make the goodbye better”, or even “wait, your only here a few years or months or weeks…ok I’m not going to make too much effort…” But the problems with these stories is that I miss out on the beauty those people, those friendships bring. In knowing the “rain” of goodbye is coming I rob the present of joy.
I know it will hurt deeply when friends leave, when goodbyes occur, when season change but my act of courage is to delve in anyway. As an act of obedience to loving well in the present but also as an act of selfishness. The gifts that grow from loving in the present are always worth the rain that follows. Goodbyes hurt, but it is always better to cry with sadness then to not have loved.
So as I hang laundry over and over and over in the rain I choose the tears for the joy of knowing you my friends every time.
So a non-elequent public shout out to my friends. The ones I’ve cried with for seasons or a lifetime. If I had to choose I’d do it all over again. I’d bring over cold karakaday and stare at the nile with you, I’d roast coffee with you under the niem tree, I’d meet you at our favorite restaurant and enroll our kids in ballet class together, I’d watch kids run around fenced yards and can salsa into the wee hours of the morning, I’d create WSW clubs and camp in the woods, I’d drive across town to be buried under a pillow fort by your child as our souls connected, I’d walk next door every afternoon to sit and chat as the kids played, I’d play card games and laugh into the wee hours of the morning…even knowing the rainy goodbyes lay ahead I’d do it all again for the joy of knowing you, the way you’ve led me to Jesus and the beautiful reminder of grief that follows, grief that allows me to know I had loved and been loved well and helped me rest in a God who is not limited by distance or time.