“The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore” (Psalm 121:8).
I remember that, as an elementary school student about to embark on a cross-country move, I waited for the school bus at the top of our driveway and debated whether I could pull the “For Sale” sign from our yard. Surely if no one saw that our house was for sale, we wouldn’t have to move. Eventually, though, someone bought our house, and my family did move. I left behind the school and community I had known and started at a new school.
Since then I have moved several more times and have learned that coming and going are natural parts of being in a community. We welcome and we say goodbye. And between those experiences, we live and love the people who come into our lives.
As I write this, my family is preparing to say goodbye to friends we’ve known for the last three years. Our families have gathered together for playdates, meals and adventures. We’ve laughed and cried together. We’ve witnessed forgiveness given and shared between our children. And now we say goodbye as they embark on another adventure.
November shows us, with its falling leaves, brown grass and cooler winds, that seasons come and go. Nature teaches us to stand in awe of its beauty and to give thanks when the seasons turn. It’s this way with friendships too. Our faith teaches us that, when it’s time to say goodbye or make a transition, we’re never alone—God is with us in the coming and going. God binds us together in community, and God sends us out to other places. We may live far from family and friends we love, but when we pray for others, we’re connected.
This month take some time to intentionally give thanks for the people God has placed in your life. Reflect on what you’ve learned from others and how you’ve grown with changing friendships. Remember that God’s love transcends time and place.
Here are two ways to express gratitude toward friends who are moving or toward others in your community:
- Get together to tell one another your favorite memories of each other or what you love about them. Give thanks to God for the impact of time in your community together.
- In a card or in person, share your favorite Bible verse and explain how your friends remind you of those words, or share a Bible verse for encouragement and support as friends transition to new things in their lives.
Connect with a school, prison or nursing home to exchange letters with people who could use a friend.
Is there a certain item in your home that reminds you of a specific friend or family member? Maybe it’s the yellow Pyrex bowl your grandmother used, or the tablecloth a friend gave you that comes out every Thanksgiving, or the worn pages of a beloved book gifted on Christmas.
Hold the object and say a prayer of thanks for the people it connects you with: Thank you, God, for this item and for the memories it holds. We know you are a God that transcends time and space. You bind us to people both near and far. I give thanks for the times shared with family and friends and for the ways your grace covers all of us. Amen.