Josh and I wrote our own wedding vows to each other. (Posted here if you'd like to see them!) One thing I specifically promised Josh was this:
"By God's grace, I promise to fulfill your emotional and physical needs, and to never ever become a source of your unhappiness."
This particular vow keeps popping into my mind lately, but not in relation to our marriage. (Personally, I think I've kept that promise to Josh pretty well so far!) The problem is that I am currently the source of a lot of unhappiness for a lot of people. Primarily, the people I care about the most in the entire world. Not because I've been mean or cruel to them, but because we are moving away for three years and having our first child far away from friends and family. (Which is its own odd form of cruelty, now that I think about it.) Despite the fact that I know our families and friends are happy for us and support us, I know that our pending departure is causing them a lot of pain, sadness, and unhappiness. If I'm being completely honest with you, it is downright one of the most horrible things I have ever experienced.
Because my very nature is to be an encourager and to be positive. So when my best friend's are crying and I am the source of their tears, I have no idea how to operate or navigate a situation like that. What words do I say? ("I'm sorry" feels shallow and insincere and "It's going to be okay" feels like I'm dismissive and lame.) As excited as we are to go on this adventure, everyone else is staying behind. We get to explore a new city, make new friends, meet new people, struggle, grow, have exciting new experiences, and learn a language. Everyone we are leaving behind will continue living whatever adventure they are currently living, just minus Josh and Leslie.
So I'm left saying things like, "Well hey, we aren't leaving for two more weeks!" and "It's only three years!" and "We can Skype all the time!" and "Lifelong friends can handle three years apart!". The truth is, though, that the distance sucks and we have a lot of people who are close to us who are going to have to mourn the fact that we will be absent from their lives.
and I hate it. I hate being the source of their pain. The coward in me wants to just leave unannounced; steal away in the middle of the night. Skip the emotional goodbyes that are becoming increasingly difficult and increasingly closer every day. The encourager in me wants to vanish and reappear on the other side of the planet and not face the fact that we are hurting a lot of people; people we love.
I just... I don't know how to navigate this. I haven't read a book about relationships with any chapters titled, "Tips on How to Handle Being the Source of Your Loved One's Pain"or "How to Navigate Leaving and Comforting Those Who Are Being Left". All I can do is try to stay positive and resort to speaking the truth.
"It's ok to cry. I've been crying too, and I'm really, really going to miss you."