Goodbye friend, parting is such sweet sorrow

You never know when the last time for something will be. Whether it's the last game of catch with your son, the last time you ever pick up your daughter, or the last time you and a friend are in the same city. You never know.

I hate that. I wish I could know, and in fact - I've even caught myself asking God if I could know. Telling him, in tears, how I wish I could know how things turn out. Before I write too much longer - I am not grieving a death. I am grieving a friendship. Two actually. Not because we cut ties or had a huge conflict, but because one decided to move to Florida, and the other really meant it when he told me 2 years ago that he'd go to Kentucky for school. I'm in grief. I'm crying over my friends. 10-year-old relationships. Just driving away.

Who gave change the right to be so intrusive in my life? I hate it here. I hate change and all his bossy and controlling habits. It's honestly so inconvenient and scary and yuck!!! Change is where good things like familiarity and security go to die. How is change ever good?


Taylor Swift's "Speak Now" album was just re-released

and since I don't usually talk about my relationship with Taylor's music I'll elaborate on why that matters. Speak Now was the first album that I owned that wasn't an old 90s gospel album or iTunes downloads burned on a CD. I received this album as a 10th birthday gift. I loved it. In fact, I wore the CD out. I knew every song, every inflection of her voice, all the album photos. Even though I was still very much a little girl, I believed I could relate to everything Taylor wrote and sang about. I remember one song in particular meaning the world to me - Never Grow Up. What are the chances this glimmer of nostalgia would come out and smack me in the face right as I am grappling with the horrors of change? Haha, typical.

As someone who has always been very content in whatever phase of life she was in, the lyrics "Take pictures in your mind of your Childhood room." or "Memorize what it sounded like when you Dad gets home" or when she writes of remembering all her little brother's favorite songs, I vividly remember thinking "Dear God, I am in the place she's so sad about missing. I need to do what she says." (which I think speaks VOLUMES about how influential pop stars are on little people.) I took photos of my room, I intentionally closed my eyes and listened when my dad came home. Our dog, Maisy would bark, and you'd hear the shaking of a collar as our elder dog, Minnie, woke to greet him. Zeke and I would greet him with a hug and a "Hi, Daddy!" I memorized how my brother would sing along to "Be prepared" from the Lion King when we performed for our stuffed animals, or how he loved The Monkees' theme song. How, even if he wouldn't sing it with me, he also knew every word to the Speak Now album.

Anyway, I mention all of this because I am at the age she was when she wrote these songs. We've officially leveled up. She's in her 30s singing about a childhood long gone, and I'm 22 watching all my friends grow up and do big things that I can't be a part of.

From work trips to Alabama, precious baby boys, college across the country, or going to a place that desperately needs more people in their field - I can't help but want to hold all of them back and plead "Please try to never grow up."

Even those who aren't physically leaving are still growing.

Running start, full time jobs, marriage, nannying, staying in Seattle, trucking, ballet intensives, lawn mowing companies, break ups, dying grandparents, selling first cars, first jobs, aging out of camp, College graduations, wearing makeup, new girlfriends and more. It's heartbreaking and yet so wonderful.

Sometimes it feels like that 10 year old, wearing her Highschool Musical nightgown, dancing with her Barbies, and flopping on her perfectly made daybed had a better handle of complex emotions than the 22 year old in the black sweatpants and bright pink sweatshirt, with a cup of coffee in her hand, sitting on her "hasn't-been-made-in-a-month" bed. Honestly, how rude?

Yet, I know I'm growing up, too. It's just easier on me to grow up than it is on me when others grow up.

I got my teaching schedule to teach classes at my old highschool the other day and do you know how happy that made me? I realized, as I held that paper and showed my Mamma, that I was living my dream. The dream, the goals, that I had made for myself at 17 and 18 were happening right in front of me. I had gone to college, graduated with my photography degree, am now a full-time photographer who has a team of 3 people working for her, and I get to return to my old school and teach teenagers about something I love. I get to hopefully impart wisdom on a subject I'm passionate about and teach them how to love it too. Show them how to find their own reason for loving it. I'm living the goal and dreams I set for myself when I was still changing all the time!

God is so good to me. He's faithful, and he placed these desires in my heart and gave me the strength to successfully get there - in his timing. I am overwhelmed with how blessed I am.

And yet, there are still days, like today, where I can't help but listen to Taylor's song on repeat.

"Wish I'd never grown up. I don't wanna grow up. Wish I'd never grown up, I could still be little."

In case it wasn't clear -

I'm bad at change. I don't like it, I don't want it, and I am usually last to embrace it. But, I see the value of change. I see how important it is for my best friend to travel in his car, alone, across the country, sleeping in a hammock, to get to a college where he will earn a year intensive certification. I see how important it is to him. I see how God may grow him in this year, and how no matter how much I kick and scream and live in denial about the reality of his move - God is at the helm of his life and I have to trust that God's plan is better than my best laid plans and ideas.

I see how important it was for the other to get out and prove he had what it took to make such a grown-up choice. I know our relationship was important as it grew from acquaintances, to my having a serious crush, to hiring him as my second shooter, to becoming true friends into adulthood. And I realize the importance of making new friendships and helping people as only he can. I'm so proud of him, but I hate that he had to leave.

I hate that I just had to lose someone who was like a sister. That was a big change. After a year of learning this girl, becoming friends, and eventually seeing her as a crucial member of the have her taken away in one phone call. As much as it isn't a death, it felt like one. I miss her desperately. I wish I could tell her that. But, like all the others who eventually have to grow up and become men and women, she's growing. She's trying. She's working hard, and embracing her friends, and learning what God wants for her life. How could I be upset about that?

I hate change.

I don't hate it so much though that I will ignore what God is doing in all their lives.

I don't hate change when it means a newborn baby boy who will grow up in a loving home with two dedicated and intentional parents. Parents who will teach him how to be a man of God, to love God and serve others, how to be a good friend, and will probably impart some love of music along the way. That kind of change is amazing. He's a miracle, a gift from God. and he has the cutest face you ever saw.

I don't hate change when a friend confesses and asks for help and puts in the work to make a change and repent. To be redeemed. From dead in sin to new life? I love that kind of change. That's also a miracle. To see who they are now versus who they were a year ago? That's a gift.

I don't hate change when two lifelong friends fall in love and get married. When they go from struggling singles to hopeful newlyweds looking to all their future before them, knowing they'll be in it together, hand in hand with God. To watch the relationship grow and develop, even if you didn't see it coming at all. Our relationship may never be the same, but She's better. He's better. They make one another better. What God has put together, let no man tear apart. Their marriage? It's a miracle. It's a gift. And, ya know? It's a change I don't hate.

Even though I may struggle with change, and I often times don't acknowledge it until I absolutely have to, change is good. It's not nearly as horrifyingly unknown as I predict.

Everyone must grow up.

So, maybe there's miracles and gifts I don't see yet.

Who knows what God will do with the change to come in the next 365 days? I know He's good, and He loves us. I know he has a very intentional plan. And I know he gives good gifts to his children.

So, even though I may miss my guys as they drive away. Or miss the versions of friendships that once were. Or miss my childhood bedroom full of Barbie dolls, craft supplies, and a perfectly made daybed.

I like the results of the changes I once dreaded. I live better, they live better, because of the changes I once hated. So, maybe one day, I'll love this change, too?

I'll see the miracles and the gifts and the blessings and God's plan. And just as I'm seeing the beauty in these changes, something else will change. I'll be right back to hating change and working through my trust walk with the Lord.

I know I'm not the only one who hates change. Please know you're not alone.

When you grieve change, when you reject growth, when you say your tearful goodbyes, and when you remember the good times once shared, please know you're not alone.

Change is hard, but it's not the end.

It's just change.

A place where no matter how scary it may feel, miracles and gifts hang out there and make it beautiful.

For now, I'll just try to simply grow up.