The Mysterious Beauty of Goodbyes

June 9, 13, 15, 2016

My farewell dinner with the Ladies was Thursday, June 9th at Plaza Azteca.

We had so much fun that night, that three of us went out again for a lunch at The Winery on Monday, June 13th.

Both were moments of peace and joy amid the crazy chaos.

At Plaza, we sat outside in our casual dresses and sweaters (just in case). A band played a cool variety of popular music, forcing us to sway and smile. I ordered my first margarita. We laughed for hours.

At The Winery, we sat outside again. Shared a bottle of Governor’s White, and soaked up a beautiful day.

Perfect. Relaxed. Lovely.

I’ve never been one for me-time. Over the years, I’ve heard moms express desperation for it, like they were zombie-walking through a vast desert, crying out, “Me-time, me-time!” I get that. I’ve been there.

But, now that I’m a bit older (and my kids are too), what I really long for isn’t me-time, but us-time. I’ve never been social. I’m an introverted homebody most days. But, I’ve learned, especially in all this, that relationships can make or break a workplace, a church, a neighborhood, a family, a whatever.

If you don’t have good relationships, then you don’t have much of anything. And, boy, did I have it GOOD!

The everyday us-time with the Ladies came to an end on June 15th, my last day at work.

And while I trusted that the relationships would continue, I knew that the us-time wouldn’t. That was tremendously sad for me. Still is.

But, everything changes, whether you want it to or not. The beauty and mystery of all these changes has helped me cherish that time in my life and see all the good stuff God gave me through it. I can see how God worked…

*Cue fuzzy fade-out-effects* Flashback!

When I look back at how I came to have that job and everything that happened because of it, I have to laugh. Before, I’d been a stay-at-home mom praying desperately for God to give me some direction. Abby was off to kindergarten in another year, my writing life hadn’t taken off, and I was at a loss over what to do that would work for our family.

Still, I scoffed and rolled my eyes when Miss Carol pulled me aside one day after I dropped Abby off at her preschool class and suggested I apply for a job there. Having taught high school, I didn’t see how I could work in a preschool. Still, I applied for one of only two jobs open, lead teacher in a 4-year-old classroom.

I turned in my application a few days later, convinced that nothing would (or should) come of it.

Miss Carol pulled me aside again. “No, Jessica. Don’t apply for the lead teacher job. Apply for mine.”

Heretofore, I considered Miss Carol very reasonable. I wasn’t so sure anymore. I knew she was retiring, but it seemed totally ludicrous for me to apply to be the Director. The job was too big for me.

I went home, prayed about it, talked to Joe, and finally decided. Okay, God, I’ll put my name in the hat, but I honestly don’t think I should have this job. Your will, not mine, though.

I got called in for an interview.

Okay, God I’ll go to the interview, but seriously? This isn’t for me. But, your will, not mine.

A few days later I got the call offering me the job. I couldn’t believe it, and I think I even asked Marsha, “Are you sure?”

Though I believed at the time that God, Marsha, and Miss Carol were all a little touched (that's Southern talk for crazy) to think I was right for the job, I accepted it. It became the most wonderful, challenging, difficult, and rewarding experience I could’ve imagined.

Here are a few of its great ironies:

* I had zero self-confidence, so God gave me a job that forced me to exude it. Public speaking, making quick decisions, smiling and being social. You name it!

* I had terrible anxiety, so God put me in charge of some of the most anxious people in the world - young parents and excellent, but very particular teachers. I learned quickly how to handle anxiety (mine and others).

* I didn’t think I had the talent to be a writer, so God put me around a bunch of encouraging women who rallied around me when I finally got published. They are still first to read my books (they read them faster than my own family).

* I didn’t think I had anything to offer, but God showed I did. I was good at ministry! I had a knack for understanding children and adults (I’m strong in psychology - who knew?). I stretched my creativity through writing for the school and coming up with ideas to keep the school growing.

* I didn’t get the need for extra friendships, so God gave me many amazing ones.

It's all proof. God works mysteriously. How cool is that?

Surrendering to God’s will isn’t easy, but it’s always best.

Saying good-bye to that life isn’t easy, but I know it’ll be best.

Cheers to the Ladies!

“Walk with the wise and become wise.” Proverbs 13:20

“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17