U-Haul truck

This devotional is quite different from what I usually write. However, I felt that someone needed to read this. Warning: I am not a certified counselor. The following are things that I’ve learned through my many, many moves.

God moves people. Let’s say it’s you. Whether it’s across the city, across the country, or to a different country, often the “left-behinds” feel betrayed or abandoned. After all, you chose your desires over theirs. They have no choice but to deal with separation. It’s different for you because, well, you’re leaving. During our travels, my wife and I left all four parents, numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, friends, and two of our (grown) kids. However, we were almost always the ones leaving. 

Some Powerful Emotions May Arise

Some powerful emotions usually arise from a pending separation, and those feelings may differ from the emotions the “left-behinds” feel after you’ve moved. The stages of emotions closely track the seven stages of grief. The “left-behinds” start with denial; they often skip the “pain and guilt,” but they barrel right into anger and bargaining. I once was bargained out of a move, and that did not turn out well.

After anger, some “left-behinds” feel depression, especially a close friend or parent. Sadly, some loved ones get stuck on either anger or depression. They never make the upward turn, reimagining their life with you not in it on a daily basis. While some “left-behinds” do reach acceptance, it may take years.

Talk Face-to-Face

The best way to communicate a pending separation is, if possible, through a one-on-one conversation. Let’s face it; when you tell your best friend in the world that you’re going to leave, they won’t take it gracefully. 

In all the pains of life, there is a human need to speak, to get out all of the words boiling inside, and to find some hope to grab hold of. My wife and I have told many people to, “Just puke out your feelings, and we’ll clean the mess up later.” Let the “left-behinds” speak. Don’t interject, don’t quiet their feelings (as long as they haven’t gone postal); just let them grieve.

Kids Need Extra Care

Often, if you’re talking to a child, the hurting child thinks they can’t say what they are feeling for fear of hurting you. Talk with them if you have permission from the child’s parent(s). Help them not to shut down. They need to express their feelings, and you need to be prepared to hear them.

If you or loved ones are facing separation, then be bold. Pray for God’s wisdom and then broach the subject; sooner is better than later, provided it’s a done deal. God is in the business of healing. He can use you to bring healing to a hurting heart.

God’s Wisdom

Proverbs 12:18 (ESV), “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Photo credit: JLaw45 on / CC BY

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He was Able

The Christmas season can be the most challenging time of the year for some people. A super talented software developer that worked for me, I’ll call him Able, once told me he spent every Christmas alone in his apartment drinking until he either passed out or Christmas was over.

On the outside Able was affable and a dedicated employee but inside he was indeed dying. I and others tried many times and with much prayer to help Able but, sadly, to no avail. One day his sister drove to his apartment and found he had finally drunk himself to death.

Ables surrounds us. Many are bruised, battered, betrayed, and, beaten down. By the thinnest of a thread, they hold onto faith in Jesus, feeling unworthy even to utter a prayer. It is these people that Jesus places at the front of His line. We should do likewise. Just look at Isaiah 42:3 (NIV), “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”

A bruised reed – This speaks of a person who is fragile and easily waved by the winds of this world. To be bruised means they are broken or crushed, but not entirely broken off. Martin Luther said of this, “He [Christ] does not cast away, nor crush, nor condemn the wounded in conscience, those who are terrified in view of their sins; the weak in faith and practice, but watches over and cherishes them, makes them whole, and affectionately embraces them.”

A smoldering wick – This represents a person who is close to losing faith and hope. For this person, Jesus will cherish, feed, and cultivate what faith remains; he supplies it with the oil of grace for the dying flame.

We serve a good and loving God that seeks to save the lost and will keep those that are His. Let’s all do His will concerning these matters. Losing an “Able” hurts too much to be insensitive to the people around us.

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