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.

 

It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it….

Kind words were spoken. Prayers were prayed.  Gifts were given. It was his last day at work. Over two years of hard work marked, honoured and celebrated; an offering of love and thanks for a loved and respected team member.

And towards the end there was one little comment, it may have been a prayer – I forget now. It came from his father.

I guess it was an observation of all the remarks, comments and prayers lifted up. Simple, fatherly, heart-swollen-proud words. Words that echoed in the room and in my mind ever since.

“Son” he said “the thing that strikes me from all that’s been said is that it’s not so much what you’ve done in your time working here; it’s the way in which you’ve done it.”

This team member had achieved many great kingdom tasks in those two years. Countless. And they are valuable.

But those weren’t the things we were recalling.

“Man of integrity”…. “servant-hearted”…. “humble”…. “no job too small”….”funny”…. so many heart-felt words we spoke over him.

We were thankful for the way he’d gone about things more than the things themselves.

You see, at the end of the day what we do isn’t the most important thing. The way we conduct ourselves; the grace we offer others; the love we show; the way we serve; the relationships we invest in… those are the things we’ll be remembered for. They’re our legacy: the thing we’re remembered for, and our greatest investment.

We can have all the revelation in the world, faith that can move mountains, and live a life sacrificed for the poor. But if it’s done without love we’ve gained nothing. I read that somewhere.

Love is the currency of the kingdom.

These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Oh, that I would preserve this precious truth in my heart and actions.

 

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“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

 

 

photo credit:Mayur Gala

twelve

Many, many moons ago a Dixon and a Robinson met. She was young. He was even younger. He was training on a young adult course called YAPS and she was training to be a teacher. They were friends. Good friends. One night as they walked in snow-fall, leaving behind a trail of snow-angels, she realised that this friendship was a little bit more special. A few weeks later he realised the same. He asked her out and in the same breath intimated that they would marry. 6 weeks later they were engaged. One year after that, and twelve years ago today they were married. 20110612-230537.jpg 20110612-224245.jpg 20110612-230552.jpg That was the end of “me” and the beginning of us. Sometimes I have wondered how we will push though. Sometimes we have argued and I have wondered how we will ever find resolution. Even this last week I have felt like that. But those vows were forever-vows. And in that wedding ceremony we asked for the help of God and the help of others as we started out that forever-journey. And so in His grace, by His spirit, and with the help of others we keep going. And as we work through every fall, every misunderstanding, every argument, we come back a little stronger, a little more united.

Sometimes you have driven me insane. Many times I have driven you even more insane. But mostly you have shown me grace.

You have always sought to say sorry first. You have loved me in my stubbornness and in my weakness and in my selfishness. You have praised me, affirmed me, and “bigged” me up (sometimes I’m afraid that the real me isn’t as good as the one you’ve described).

You have a lion-heart; courageous, bold and unswerving.

We all joke when you make reference about how you’re “happy to serve.” But truly: you do serve. You lay down your life for Jesus and for me.

You never keep still. Not for a moment. Even when you’re just sitting your leg is twitching. You have more energy than anyone I’ve ever known (except maybe for our kids who seem to have inherited your bouncy-gene).

You have this passion. And this commitment. And it’s unrelenting. I hear you say it often: that you want to sow into others what God’s sown into you. You know that is the call on your life.  I see you regularly giving out what you’ve only just received. I don’t know anyone more generous than you.

You call out potential. In me. In the kids. In those you love, and those you work with. You look for the good, and overlook the bad.

When you came to faith “Amazing Grace” was playing in the background. I think it’s the soundtrack to your life. You know that you were once lost and now you’re found. And you never forget it. You never assume or forget that grace. You live everyday thankful for what He has done in and through you.

You’re not perfect. But you know that because I tell you (more than I should).

I remember the day, just after we were married, when you came home from work and told me what you thought we should call our son. Nine years ago Josiah Samuel, our first Robinson-bundle arrived and you radiated joy.

Photo   Photo   Photo Photo Photo You are an incredible father. Day-after-day-afer-day you come home from work and put aside the thoughts in your mind and you pick up those chablings and tickle them, rugby tackle them, laugh with them, listen to them and play with them. They know they are loved. They know they are safe. They know their daddy in heaven loves them. You challenge them, with the steadfast love of a father. You call them to something more, something better, something more like the One who made them.

 

And so on this anniversary, and on this father’s day I am doubly thankful for all that you are and all that you give. I am blessed. 

Thank you x

9 things I learnt over the summer

I think if I could summarize my summer I’d say it was all about going back to basics. As everything quietened down I felt God beckoning me back to the simple truth of loving Him and loving others. Many of the things I learnt or processed weren’t rocket-science but rather a gentle reminder of what’s important. And what isn’t. So, in no particular order, here’s 9 of the things I learnt, processed, or re-learnt this summer.

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