My dear readers,
Looking through the site, I found this old draft from before. (Love me in all my foibles, but the exact timeline on this one is fuzzy.) I didn’t post it, because the moment it which it was written in was too fresh for many. My hope is that it has aged like a wine, growing in depth and complexity, and not like vinegar, burning old wounds.
A thought for tonight, as I finish the chapter of my degree program and look forwards.
Fifteen(ish) years ago, I made a decision based in a fundamental shift in my life. I left the faith in which my childhood was formed, and moved into the faith of my choosing. It was a difficult transition for me, those close to me in my former faith, and especially for my family of origin. It was hard work on unmarked paths, and still continues to be an issue that I strive to hold with care and grace.
I was in the dawn of my twenties, and while I made it to the other side, I did not transition well. There were hurts that took time and work to heal, relationships that had long roads to reconciliation, and new realities that take adjustment still to this day.
Fast forward to present day: I now find myself on the other side of this equation. Watching someone else leave a faith. Then find myself leaving one job for another. Leaving. And I’ve been thinking about this. A lot. This idea of leaving well.
I don’t think we’re good at this. We’re good at starting things, the bravado, the initiation, the impetus. We like to begin new things and think we’re going to be astounding. But things change, we change. And sometimes those changes necessitate a breaking. I’ve watched exits that have scorched the earth, obliterating any token of what was, leaving scars that take years to heal. I’ve seen disappearances, where someone was there and then vanished, like a wisp of a memory that no one dares invoke. But conscious disengaging? Exiting with honor and respect and space for all to be present? Choosing to step towards the next and new with gratitude to what has been? That’s hard.
So here is my unsolicited advice to those in the midst of a shift.
To those who are leaving:
Be gracious. In every word and gesture, be full of grace. Those around you are catching up to a change that you’ve been chewing on for however long. Give them time to adjust. Be open for questions.
To those who are being left:
Show love. Changes are scary for everyone involved, this is not the time to blow up relationships. Understand that this may be a time of putting aside the ideas of “right” and “wrong” and lean into big words like acceptance and understanding and unconditional.
Did I follow all my own advice personally? During the time of my own transition? No, absolutely not. Do I wish I had acted with more grace, left well? Absolutely. My hope is that the lessons learned on my thorny road through will provide a way to ease this walk for others. It’s uncharted territory every time. Let’s travel this journey well.