Preschool is done for the year.
My son had been looking forward to all of the end-of-the-year things. The program. The last day. The picnic.
But as we headed out on the final morning of preschool activities, sadness hit him hard: I want to stay.
This is his first experience with finishing the year and really enjoying his own summer break, so it’s the first time he’s truly said goodbye to his classroom buddies and considered what it’d be like not to see them a few times every week for a few months or so.
And that’s a bit sad indeed.
We can look forward to what’s ahead, of course. His older sisters chime in with their own reminders that summer is, in fact, awesome.
Then, I remind him that preschool will begin again in the fall and there will be familiar faces and new faces. It will be worth anticipating.
This works for a moment, but then he remembers again that in order to move on to the new, he has to say some goodbyes. There are some things he has to leave behind.
And saying goodbye….stepping into new places…that’s not always easy.
Sometimes there are assignments and places we make permanent that God intended to be temporary. We cement our hearts right down and God asks us to be more movable than that.
It’s okay. It’s good. It’s necessary. It’s beautiful even at times to step out of the old, maybe even before we know what new land God has called us to.
We trust Him to show us what that might be. A land of rest, perhaps. A land of labor maybe. A place of new beginnings or maybe one more forward step in this long, connected journey we’ve been on.
The key is remebering that what we’re doing here in this very place is God-led. He could tell us to stay or He could encourage us to move on. Either way, we lean into His leading. The blessing is in the obedience.
Me? I tend to be a permanent foundation builder, in it for the long-haul, committed to hang in and hang on even when God has hinted it’s time to let go.
In the book of Ruth, I find someone else who struggled with making the temporary assignment a permanent destination:
In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land.So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. 2 The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there (Ruth 1:1-2 CSB).
Elimelek left Bethlehem for Moab “for a while.” Another translation said he “went to sojourn in the country of Moab.”
Maybe he shouldn’t have gone in the first place, trusting God instead to provide right there instead of hightailing it to foreign destinations. But, he left, and at first it was supposed to be a temporary trip.
But then “he lived there.” The ESV says “he remained there.”
The temporary became permanent for him. He put down roots. His sons married Moabite women. They didn’t seem to have any intention of returning to Bethlehem until death changed everything. Elimelek and his two sons died, leaving their widows, Naomi, Ruth and Orpah, with some significant decisions.
Elimelek settled and stayed.
But Ruth was willing to move.
She moved to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law despite her own grief.
She moved into the fields to glean and to provide.
She moved onto a threshing floor in the middle of the night to seek a redeemer.
In her book, “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit,” Nicki Koziarz says Ruth “stays open to the movement of God.”
This is where I’ve been growing. I’ve been stepping down and then waiting. Saying goodbye and not turning around and jumping back into the same-old, same-old. I’ve been listening more. I’ve been taking my time and refusing to be rushed into decisions that others seem to feel have to be made right away.
I’ve been leaning into God and asking for Him to speak the “no” and speak the “yes” so I will know when to stay or go, put down or pick up, relinquish or fight on, say farewell or begin anew.
It starts with this: Making sure I’m not turning temporary trips into permanent residences, trusting that God can always move me on and being willing indeed to go.