when it’s time to say goodbye

Wrapping up a present for my son’s friend, I found myself gently sobbing in the quietness.

Sandwiched in between leaving parties and goodbyes, those tears caught me off guard. This particular friend of my son – his best friend – is really more like a brother than a friend. He’s been an incredible gift to my son, and his whole family a precious blessing to us all. It’s a particularly hard relationship to say goodbye to, even though skype, emails, texts and visits will continue to keep us connected.

I’ve been surprised at when my tears have come. And when they haven’t.  They haven’t come in the big ‘goodbye’ events. Not because I’ve been holding them back: they’ve just not been the emotional times for me. They’ve come in the quiet times, the unexpected times; the times when I’ve had space to reflect on the depth of relationship with various individuals.

When we first knew that we were leaving Sheffield I remember feeling like God wanted us to fully invest in our relationships right until the day we left. There’s a temptation in a transition period to start to withdraw in relationships. It feels easier that way – less painful and less vulnerable. But it’s also less meaningful.

It’s right that we feel pain and loss in relationships as we leave. We can only feel loss when something has value. If we lose an item we don’t care about, we shrug our shoulders and move on. But if we lose an item that is precious to us, we feel sadness in its loss. Infinitely more when it comes to relationships.

To fully give means at times we experience loss too.

It’s a heavy price. But it’s a price I’m willing to pay. To hold back emotionally, and merely maintain shallow relationships feels like a greater price. Yes, I would never feel hurt or loss in the same way, but neither would I feel the joy that I have come to know in precious relationships.

So as we say goodbye to those we love in Sheffield we know it’s not the end: just the next leg of the journey. And as we enter our new season we’ll be looking again to give ourselves fully in the relationships placed around us.

It’s the only way we know how.



WordPress tells me that this is my 100th post. I can’t quite believe that this is the case but I’m sure the figures don’t lie. Whether or not it’s true I’m taking this opportunity to reflect a little, and to share some of my most popular posts. 

Although I don’t post here very frequently it has been a wonderful journey for me. There are many, many unpublished posts on my WordPress account which I don’t think I’ll ever post but they’ve provided a great space for me to process the wonder of life and what God’s saying in the midst of it. And for those posts that have made it into the public domain – I’m so very grateful to those who’ve read, commented, re-posted, encouraged or given me constructive feedback along the way. Thank you.

Anyone who has ever written anything publicly can probably identify with how vulnerable and fear-inducing it can feel to hit that “publish” button. But often the more scary it’s felt to press that button, the more it seems to have impacted others. It seems that when we share our hearts – our real, raw, unfiltered hearts that we somehow bring encouragement to others. Maybe it’s because we begin to realise that we’re not the only ones with doubts, fears, insecurities, secret hopes and dreams. And the one thing that hits me time and time again is that we humans spend a lot of our lives trying to appear more secure and more “sorted” than we really are! I’m all for God bringing healing and restoration into those places. I want that so much in my own life, and in the lives of those I love. But whilst that restorative work is still going on (oh, that will be the rest of my life then) I want to try and keep my mask off and be honest about where I really am. The church, and by that I mean the body of God’s people, was never meant to be about a group of people who thought they’d got it all together. Quite the opposite. It’s meant to be a group of people who know they haven’t got it all together but rely on the One who holds all things together.

So I guess my hope is that this space, this blog, is a place where some of that can happen.

Anyhow, that was a bit of an aside…To mark this centennial moment I  thought I’d share with you my top 5 most-read posts:

  1. Do kids ruin your life?
  2. What if we allowed our kids to be a channel rather than an obstacle
  3. Is your mission sexy enough?
  4. On parenting and foundation-laying
  5. 2013:one life

love anna