There’s comfort in saying hello.
You see, lately, my life has felt marked by a slew of goodbyes. A couple of months ago, my husband was offered an incredible job promotion nine hundred miles away. As commuting hundreds of miles a day isn’t for the faint of heart – and because I can take care of my babies and write and speak from anywhere – we said yes.
So, we said yes to an interstate move from Oakland, California to Seattle, Washington. We said yes to new opportunities. We said yes to new adventures and yes to a new church and yes to returning to my roots, as I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and most of my immediate family and many old friends already live here.
But as good as all the yeses looked on paper, I didn’t anticipate the noes that would come along with it – just as I didn’t anticipate how hard saying goodbye would be to my insides.
Because, moving, man: it’s brutal. It’s a leaving, a divorce, a death of what was. Your heart resides in one place while your body lives in another.
“What is love?” I asked my four-year-old son last night.
“Love is sad,” he replied. I looked at him, not knowing what to say in return. Love is sad? What have his preschool teachers been teaching him? What have we been teaching him? Love is a happy thing! Exclamation points all around! Puppies and rainbows and glitter are sprinkled into our sentences when it comes to love, and our hearts are prompted to smile upwards with delight.
But I also knew that small humans are also a whole lot smarter than we big humans sometimes give them credit for. I also knew that he might have something to teach me in that moment.
“Why is love sad, buddy?”
“Love is sad because I miss people in Oakland.”
I wrapped my arms around my little boy, locking eyes with my husband. He heard it, too. He felt the pain, too. He felt the weight of leaving and of saying goodbye and of feeling displaced, too.
Because if my little boy is anything like me, I think he’s ready for the comfort hellos bring as well.
So, here’s what I vow to do in the coming weeks: I vow to give myself grace. I vow to practice gentleness. I vow to read a lot of books and sip a lot of chamomile tea and stare out the window at city lights. I vow to rest. I vow let myself mourn if I need to mourn, and I vow to say my hellos with friends new and old. I vow to hug my boys – all three of them, the two small humans and the one big human alike – as if my life depends on it, because maybe it does. I vow to hunker down in the rain and cold, just as I vow to do a little happy dance when the sun peeks out. I vow to glory in the gray. I vow to snuggle under a blanket and watch Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life all weekend long, and I vow to eat baby bean burritos from the taqueria across the street as much as my belly prompts me to do.
And I think that when this happens, when space is given and rest is embraced, then I think I’ll begin to see that God is in this place.
I think I’ll begin to feel the warmth of the Spirit, and I think I’ll begin to remember the Christ who goes before and behind me, who lives to my right and to my left, who hovers above and below me, who nestles in every inch around me.
I think I’ll begin to feel the comfort and the satisfaction and the contentment of the one who is the very embodiment of peace.
And I think then I’ll begin to call him Peace, too.
Could it be the same for you?