Last summer while I was up in the mountains, I picked up a book at one of my favorite bookstores, Cornerstone. It is one of the two places I HAVE to go to while up there (Oz is the other). I had been contemplating getting Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz for the longest time. And there I was, confronted with this issue once again. Did I get it? No. Instead I picked up Through Painted Deserts. I read it while up there and I just started reading it again. It has done three things for me:
1. Made me want to road trip badly.
2. Made me want to visit Oregon.
3. Made me think about the significance of leaving.
Leaving. Everybody does it. You have to. Where do we leave from? Everywhere. You leave home for school. You leave home for work. And you come back to it. I know I certainly appreciate leaving and thus returning from the busy world to the quiet. When I was little we left North Carolina to go an extremely long ways away. I don’t think it affected me as much as it could have if I had been older. But I left and…I returned. We left Maine. I haven’t gone back a lot, but mostly it is people I miss there that I left. I left my family when I went off to Eastern for college. And as it is with many people, I appreciated them so much more upon my leaving them. I left Eastern last May and I left some of the greatest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and working with. And I have returned. I certainly appreciate them and see them in a completely different light now that I am outside that world. I’m not a student there anymore. I see them as incredible mentors and colleagues now. I left my Cheese, my amazingly talented roommate who, now a year later, is someone I can’t imagine not knowing. Those were all big, literal leaves.
There are other types of leaving though. Leaving physical things behind and leaving habits and attitudes behind. I leave my school and oddly enough, miss the kids sometimes and long for that routine again. Pastor Steven Furtick was talking about leaving today in church as well. You leave something and come to realize how amazing something truly is. I leave my church and miss it when I’m gone. I miss the experience and I miss the people. I leave my mountains and go back to them and appreciate the beauty there that God created every single time I return. I leave behind behaviors and attitudes to search for something better and strive for something better. I don’t always succeed as I’d like to, but I try to leave it behind, little by little.
This oddly connects in amazing ways with the sermon at church this morning about how God doesn’t automatically change us, otherwise, we wouldn’t need Him. He changes us little by little. We have to learn to leave. Learn to leave people when it isn’t healthy for us and leave people to better ourselves through schooling, a move, whatever it my be. We have to learn to leave places behind if they are hindering us so we can be in an environment that inspires us. We have to learn to leave behaviors and attitudes to discover who we are meant to be…to change. Leaving, no matter what or who we leave, changes us. We don’t want to become stagnant and stale like a piece of bread. When it’s time to leave something behind, we should do so and thus learn to live in every moment to experience it to the fullest and become changed.
“Everybody has to change, or they expire. Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons… It might be time for you to go. It might be time for you to change, to shine out. Leave… It is a beautiful word…strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It will be you who will have changed.” – from the Author’s Note in Through Painted Deserts
I’m learning what I need to leave and what I appreciate. What about you?