There are times when I particularly enjoy my husband Josh. Long talks on the lawn, leisurely kisses after days apart, delighting in something together. In those moments I catch myself thinking, “I’m so glad to enjoy this! I will be sad when it’s over!”
In the midst of these moments I find myself overtaken by nostalgia, a wistfulness that beauty doesn’t last. Yet, thankfully, barring death we’ve got our whole future to spend together enjoying moments like these. Holding them loosely so as not to crush them.
I experience moments of contented panic in my day-to-day life in Madagascar. Now that we’re leaving it makes “Mada-moments” more poignant, painful even.
There is a deep tension between savouring the moment and realizing that it is fleeting. Leaving means sacrificing so many things I’ve come to love: the ability to custom order almost anything to be hand-made by skilled craftspeople, beautiful baskets and other Malagasy made crafts, the climate, cheap tropical fruit, our wonderful church family, a vibrant international community. The list is endless.
Yet these things, this place, is not something I can hold on to. Life happens; change comes. Change is really the only constant in life on earth.
Enjoying God, therefore, is something that I’m finding inexpressibly comforting. Enjoying His Word, resting in His presence, waiting on Him to guide and provide—these things will literally last forever. As much as I enjoy my husband, my children, friends, or places, these things will pass away.
When I steep in the presence of the Almighty, those human feelings of nostalgia make me smile rather than panic, for time with God is unlimited and will become increasingly enjoyable the more I learn about Him.
Uprooting causes me to grasp onto anything familiar that I can bring with me. Sheepishly, I know that no matter how many souvenirs I buy, I can’t bring this life with me to Canada. I’ve taken, therefore, to being thankful for the things that will be constant here, and far away in Canada: Josh, my boys, some furniture, the boys’ Lego, family traditions. And God. No matter what happens in life, no matter what I lose, God never changes. What a comforting thought.
“Good-bye is a word that loosens earth’s hold on me. Painful as it is, good-bye cuts the cables that release my boat from the harbour and frees me to float closer to my real home. Good-bye reminds me that the idea that I possess anything is illusionary.
“My dear ones are not mine to have and to hold forever. Earthly relationships are transient. The house we put so much of ourselves into passes from our grasp. The job that identifies us at parties is lost; the skill that was linked with our names diminishes” (Jean Flemming, Pursue the Intentional Life, 174).
This is a hard truth, but an important one if I am to weather life’s losses and leavings. And, frankly, I find it brings the consistency of God into sharper focus.
A publication of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference