You have seen many people coming and going across the years of your life. Sometimes this makes sense and other times it doesn’t. There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason to those who stick close and those who drop off at the sides, but for you to carry on and to continue forward you must come to terms with the seasons of people alongside your life.
The first thing I would want you to know is just this: people will come and go and it won’t always be nice and pretty. Often, there is disillusionment and confusion. Those who were helping us get healthy can’t stay around once we are healthy. Those who encouraged you toward your goals all of a sudden have no interest to stay around once you reach them.
And if we are not well versed or emotionally resonant, grieving when we have to grieve and releasing when it is time to release, we will lose untold energy and focussing ability and the very things we are called to do and be about will suffer.
It is imperative that you learn to quickly and efficiently process the angst around people coming and going. Here are a few things I’ve learned in my own journey of this over the years:
1. The very first thing that must be realized is that the work will carry on regardless of who is round about. If what you are doing is solid and congruent to who you are, if it is true vocation and not some role or pretension then even as people come and go the core work of your life will continue.
It is a good thing to be keenly aware of our need for others round about our lives and work. Yet when we begin a work, when we step out to risk forward, we will feel our need for others in a starkly shocking way. The need for others will take on exaggerated form.
As the work takes on a life of its own we will come to see that while we still need people, that the rhythm of people coming and going is just that, a rhythm. People will keep coming and going. This may seem obvious and yet it is not.
People going can cause us to become disillusioned with the process and our lives. It doesn’t really make sense when those who are seemingly striding alongside all of a sudden seem to disappear. If we have put too much stock in their presence we can be tossed into a sea of confusion for a time.
All in all, bottom line, let people come and go. Do not hold them ransom within your own heart and mind, or the work, in any way. As they go, there will be others who will cycle in, and when those ones cycle out, there will be others who cycle in. What you are about will remain.
2. To do this we release people to their own lives. And we take on the work of our lives in an even deeper way. Bluntly, we grow up and we carry the responsibility for what we are about and the work before us.
While we want, and do really need, good people around us, we must loose control of this. The core of who we are is not dependant on the choices or presence of others. You can be about your work even if all others fall away. Of course, all others never really fall away, but you must come to the point in time when you really get it that you can carry on even if ‘no one goes with’.
If our faithfulness is dependant on the choices of others then you are not free. You have made yourself bound by your expectations and need. Don’t do this.
The manner of work within this world is increasingly becoming about voluntary associations, intentional yes, official no. Shift into this. Be the kind of person that is gracious to people whether they are coming or going. Find a place of understanding in your heart for their choices in regards to the work you are doing.
3. The key responsibility for yourself would be this: make it easy for people to stay. While we cannot hold people to the work of our lives we do not want to flip to that other side of arrogance and conclusions falsely drawn and into cynicism. This, would drive others away. That is not what we are talking about here.
While people come and go we don’t want to be the one to be driving them away by our attitude and manner. So even though people will come and go we journey this in a manner whereby it is easy for people to stay if they choose.
We treat people well. We do not over-manage. We take responsibility for our own emotional triggers – we do not put our emotional drama onto others. We do the hard work within ourselves so that we can truly bless people as they go. We stay in the moment with those who are here. We work hard to vision forward and to build for the long haul, for those who want to be in for all the thick and thin.
And we let people decide how their journey may intersect our own.
4. Because most of all, it takes time for us to really come to the core of our own work. It takes time to articulate with accuracy the vision and the compelling that is within our own beings. And in the time it takes to get to this place people will be interested, they will hover around, checking you out, your work, your heart.
And some will be compelled to stay. Others will not. There is no good or bad, right or wrong in this. It is simply the way we make choices about the engagement of our lives. You want people who will be co-laborers alongside you. You do not want cheerleaders.
So let the ones who cannot really engage go. Bless them and let them go.
I suspect that even as you are reading this there are one or two people with whom you have been hanging onto. This would be very normal. It is exceptionally hard to say it as it is. Often, we go for months or years caught in what was, unable to head into what is unknown.
When people leave we never really know who or when or how the future looks. Supreme courage is required to stand on that precipice. Yet it is something you must do in order to go forward in a solid and strong manner.
If there is any application from today:
1. Take hard steps to let go of people within your own heart and mind. This is an internal work. The ones you are ‘letting go’ may never actually go anywhere. Yet, your attention and intention to this will make the staying so much easier for all involve. And some, yes some, may leave.
2. In your mind’s eye look at the years to come, see your heart and work in the mix, imagine out the time-line of your life, and reaffirm your own commitment to your own life. The impact of your years will naturally unfold as you commit to living your own life with the work that is yours to carry out. Settle into your own life.
3. Appreciate the people around you. Never take them for granted. Increase in thankfulness and gratitude for those who are choosing to throw their line in with yours. Love them well. Bless them every chance you get. Be authentic, walk in sincerity, invest in a generosity of heart and soul unto them.
4. Grieve every step of the way. Become comfortable with the lament that must accompany every shift and change of people as they come and go. The loss is real. Make no mistake about that. But as you become more resilient in your own heart it becomes easy to give hearty ‘yes and amens’ to the journey of this life and the people round about. You will be stronger, less distracted by loss, able to continue forth blessing and being blessed.
Go forth solid in what you are about. The world needs what you are bringing to the table.
Thank you for showing up.