Finding Connection in a Life Full of Goodbyes

So it's been quite a while since I've posted...oops.

While this blog is a lifestyle blog that focuses on much more than just our upcoming move, the reality is that right now, our move and everything that comes along with it has been all consuming, so that's what we have been talking about.

During this transition, the hardest part for me has been accepting the fact that despite my contentment with relationships, routines, and the community that we prayed for and have come to absolutely adore, change has yet again come knocking on the door. The past couple weeks have been full of "lasts" and anticipated goodbyes, and to be quite frank, it's been heavy.

Many of you guys know our story, but for those of you who don't, Corey and I have moved our family around a decent amount in our seven short years. As a result, I have unintentionally conditioned myself to avoid investing in relationships, knowing in the back of my head that the likelihood of us picking up and leaving again would be pretty good.

When we left Ohio three years ago, we had just begun making true "adult friends" for the first time in our lives.

Does anyone else feel the struggle of making friends as a grown up? I mean honestly, it's stressful. You have to make sure the other spouses get along with each other, the kids mesh, and heaven forbid if you don't discipline the same, agree politically, etc. all bets are off.

Anyways, back to the point, I can remember back in Ohio when we finally put ourselves out there and went over to a new friends house for dinner just days before we left for California. It was awesome. The wife was a co-worker of mine, and our kids were similar in age. We hit it off and felt so grateful as we sat around the table and talked about life, our kids, and everything else. As we pulled out of the drive-way, my heart sank. I was bummed to have finally found the connection that I was yearning for, only to be leaving for another state. Secretly I began to count down the days of when we would return to Ohio so that we could continue the friendship with this family, and hopefully find our own community.

As we began to get settled in California, I hesitated to connect with anyone as I clung to the hope that we'd return to Ohio eventually. Of course surface-level connections and relationships couldn't hurt, but what was the point in truly investing in a church, families, or the community, when the likelihood of us moving back to Ohio was pretty good, right?

Two years.

For two years I carried on with this attitude. I took my kids to school, sports, church, and more without making an effort to talk to people, to help out, or build any type of relationship, and it was completely lonely. I looked forward to visits to Ohio, and did everything in my power to get any and all family out to visit us, ignoring the fact that there could be great relationships all around me.

Regardless of how lonely it was, I carried on knowing that I was doing the right thing by protecting myself and my family.  I thought I was saving myself from a heap of  energy and disappointment when the inevitable move pulled me away from our newfound friendships. Investing in relationships only to leave them again felt pointless.

Finally, after about two years in California and many difficult conversations, Corey and I excitedly made the decision to make it our home. Our plans to move back to Ohio became less and less likely, until finally, we decided California was where we'd get established.

We decided to begin putting an effort forward. I prayed for God to allow us to meet the right people, and step out of our little box of a life. At kids practices, we started conversing with people. We decided to start looking for a church closer to our house so that we could get more involved. I decided to start making eye contact at school pick-up, and sure enough friendships started to blossom. California began to feel like home because for the first time in a long time, we were connecting. Doors were opening, we found a new church through baseball parents, and through that church more relationships were created. My heart found what it had been yearning for--a community. A friend to text when I had a question. Kids that my little ones could hang out with outside of school. People to confide in and pray for us when hardships came.

Well anyone who has been following us for any amount of time knows what's next in the storyline...


As the months went on, life took some unexpected turns, and you all know how it turns out...we are moving back to Ohio.

And here I find myself in the same mindset that I found myself just days before we left Ohio...counting down the days until we move back to California, and we haven't even left yet. Our friends, our church, the school, the sports...We are leaving it all behind, and reflexively there is a part of me that regrets ever putting energy into establishing ourselves out here in the first place just knowing how much easier it would be to pull away with no strings attached.

Here's the thing though, these goodbyes are a blessing. The goodbyes mean that we have impacted and been impacted. They mean that we have memories. They mean that we lived, and felt, and experienced beyond the walls of our own home. As I reflected on the memories and tried to begin to digest what the next few months would hold for us, here's what I realized about why finding connection in a life full of goodbyes is so important:

1.) God doesn't call us to be comfortable, God calls us to follow his will.

Some people can make friends in an instant. For me, that doesn't come so naturally. I think that part of the difficulty in all of these moves is that making new friendships and meeting new people is uncomfortable for me. I am constantly overanalyzing everything, and it sucks a lot of my energy. That's why I think that once we find a routine and friendships, it's so hard for me to leave because finally, I'm comfortable.

Unfortunately though, what I know is that God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He doesn't call us to settle into a routine meeting the same people at the same time day after day. Sure, that's nice and predictable, and naturally that's what I prefer, but I have to think that if God has led us to uproot our family yet again, that it's for a reason. As much as it feels like it some days, God isn't punishing us by pulling us away. It is so easy for me to put my head down, and start fantasizing about a potential future back in California. It would be so easy for me to just keep to myself until that day comes, but what if that day never comes, and what blessings would I be passing up by doing this? What relationships might I be passing up on in the meantime? I don't know much about this move, but what I do know is that Corey and I are following God's will. If I believe that, I have to believe that whatever people cross my path along the way cross it for a reason, even if it's uncomfortable. Just like He provided for us out here, He will do the same wherever we end up.

2.) Maybe this relationship isn't about you.

As I think back on the relationships I've made over the last year, by default I think about what it's done for me. Just a little selfish, eh?  Even when trying to pursue friendships over the last year, I continually waited for others to put the effort forward first. As I reflect on how my friends here have invited me to places, complimented me on something, or sent a simple text message, I realize how impactful that has been for me. Why then have I not done the same for others?

I got to thinking about all of the mom's I've dodged at the park avoiding conversation, and even eye contact at times because I knew I likely wouldn't be around weeks or even months down the road, and I didn't want to have to explain my story to yet another stranger. I thought about all of the check-in text's I could have sent but never did because I was busy being comfortable, or simply didn't want to bother people. What if it wasn't about me though? What if when I was at the park I was put in that person's path to simply have one conversation, to make a compliment and be a blessing. Who have I missed out on impacting by withdrawing myself? I don't have the answer to that, but what I have decided is that with this upcoming move, I'm going to be more intentional about introducing myself even if it's just at the park. I'll try harder to compliment people, even it's just a stranger at the store. I won't avoid friendships just because my future is unknown because at the end of the day, all of our futures are unknown, and maybe, just maybe my next interaction isn't about me.

3.) If a relationship is meant to last, it will.

For so long I believed that investing time in people during a temporary stage in my life was pointless because as soon as that season ended, so would the relationship. I figured that once people know we weren't sticking around, they'd likely stop putting the effort in as well, and it felt like any energy I spent investing was for nothing. As I was reflecting on the sweet family in Ohio that we had dinner with a just days before we moved, I realized that yes, maybe we aren't as close as we'd be if we were in Ohio, but there is still a friendship there. Thankfully because of that, we know we have another family we can look forward to returning to. She and I go months without texting, but every now and then, I will get a message from her and it will completely turn my day around. I am thankful for that friendship even if the physical meetings were brief, the relationship has lasted.

As I get ready to leave California, I am working on trusting God with the friendships that we leave behind. As much as it bums me out to leave though, I have faith that 1.) These relationships were established for a reason, and 2.) If the relationship is meant to last, it will. If any of the relationships were simply meant to be for a brief stent of time, I trust that I was able to make a mark, and that ultimately they were part of His plan.

4.) Withholding connection is only blocking you from blessings and opportunities.

Finally, I just want to say that when I finally allowed myself to begin connecting, so many blessings and opportunities came for not only myself, but Corey and the kids as well. I think about my sweet friend Keisha who I met with the other day and how she has encouraged me to pursue my dreams. I think about our pastor who has spoken so much truth into our lives, and indirectly encouraged us to step out in faith. I think about friends that our kids have made, and even connections that we have been able to make for the business. It may have been easier to leave had I continued to withdrawal, but who knows where I'd be without those little connections. I also hope that in some small way we have been a positive impact to those we have met as well.

I can honestly say that God has taught me so much through this. Until recently I viewed our life of continuous change as a burden, but I'm beginning to see it as a blessing. I can honestly say that if I knew we were planning on going back to Ohio, I never would have allowed myself to connect in the way that we have. Ultimately, God knew all along that we wouldn't be staying in California, but maybe he allowed us to think that we'd be here forever so that we'd give the people who crossed our paths the time of day.

So, whether you are a military family, a high school or college student facing tons of change, a young adult trying to figure out how and where to get established, or just an ordinary mom and wife like me...I hope this encourages you not to hold back. Allow yourself to invest in people, even if they only cross your path for a day. Look for opportunities to make connections. Invest in others, period.

God has placed you in this season and through these circumstances for a reason. Embrace the people He places in your life, even if it isn't going to benefit you. They have been placed in your life to shape you, to teach you, to transform you, to impact you, and to help you become who God has made you to be even if they aren't yours to keep forever.

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