My mother once told me that she sometimes regrets having four children. Not because she doesn’t love us, but because she does.
Her mama heart of compassion ached when we were hurt for any reason. And at times, multiplying life’s painful moments by four seemed more than she could bear.
I understood her point given our tough childhood and the various trials my siblings and I have experienced throughout life. Yet I now understand her sentiment more clearly as I walk my kids through the first big loss of their tender lives.
And she was right. It is excruciating as a mother to watch your kids grieve.
For months we have been preparing our hearts to say goodbye to our dear friends who are moving across the country. This is a family that we love deeply. We have poured into each other’s lives and grown in faith together in small group, we’ve labored together in ministry and have just generally had a blast as friends living life together. We’ve shared prayers and tears and disagreements and triumphs and joys. We’ve invested in each other’s kids and become like family.
My friend has spoken truth into my heart and sharpened me as iron sharpens iron. She understands me not only as a sister in Christ, but also as a fellow mother of four. And I could hardly begin to explain how much she has blessed me by loving my children so well. So you can imagine how painful it has been for me personally to watch her pack up her family over the past several weeks.
But as hard as it is for me to say goodbye to one of my treasured friends, this is a loss that affects my children on multiple levels.
Our kids have grown as close as brothers and sisters. Hardly a week goes by without hours spent together at church or in each other’s homes. And this couple has invested in my children, discipled them, loved them and poured into them as youth leaders and mentors.
The roots of this relationship have grown fast but deep. So it is no exaggeration to say that when this family pulls out of our driveway for the last time, our lives will be left as disrupted soil in palpable ways.
I have walked through heavy losses in my life even from a young age including divorce, my father moving away and even death. But I have never lost a close friend to a move. Neither have my children.
And I am realizing that the loss of a friend to a move is a lonely experience. Because when a loved one dies, meals are brought. Cards are sent. Condolences are offered. Understanding and grace abounds. But when a close friend moves, life just kind of marches on as usual for the rest of the world. Especially for my kids.
Please know, I don’t begin to claim that losing a friend to a move is the same as a death or divorce nor that it requires the same level of support. We have hope and reassurance that we’ll see this family again on this side of Heaven.
But it is still a devastating loss.
This is the first time that I have held my child while she weeps tears of deep deep loss. This is the first time I have seen a new maturity steeped in sorrow reflected in my son’s eyes.
This is the first time mommy can’t kiss the boo boo and make the hurt go away.
I want my children to experience the fullness of life … pain included. But as they melt into tears over and over again, my mother’s words echo in my mind. And it’s sobering to realize that this is but the first of many sorrows I will navigate with my children.
Perspective tells me that this is not the biggest loss they’ll face in life.
Perspective tells me other kids have weathered far worse.
Perspective tells me that character is developed in heartache.
But right now? Right now it really sucks for them. Right now they need prayer and reassurance and reminders of God’s promises. Right now they are experiencing true grief for the very first time and my mama’s heart is a mess over it.
But perspective also tells me something else.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
God loves these kids far more than I ever could. And they will experience Him in new ways as He comforts them and mends their broken hearts. The disrupted soil of their lives will be smoothed and replanted by the One who has a purpose and plan for them far greater than I can imagine.
And for that I am truly grateful.
I confess that I barely acknowledged it over the years if someone I knew had a close friend or family member move away. I usually felt sorry for the people leaving and never fully understood how painful it is to be the ones who remain.
If you know someone moving, I urge you to remember to comfort the families who remain. Teach your children to show compassion to their peers during this type of loss.
And above all, pray not only for the family who is moving, but also for the ones left behind.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4