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Leaving for Love

Everything

Leaving for Love

Courtney Bither

by Courtney Bither

I’m learning to leave right now.

Leaving is hard. At least for me. Leaving a relationship. A church. A home.

Sometimes it’s not difficult. Sometimes we grow out of things and people and places. Sometimes leaving is for the better. Sometimes it feels right. Sometimes it just happens.

And other times it doesn’t.

Other times it feels like leaving might kill you.

I’m in the process of leaving. I’m leaving because I can’t stay in a place where there isn’t love for hurting people, for different people, for people who are fighting for their lives.

And the process isn’t easy or pretty or neat.

It’s messy and sad and terrible.

But it’s not as messy and sad and terrible as trying to stay in a place without love.

I have struggled with leaving because I thought leaving meant I wasn’t loving. I thought I was only loving if I stayed in this place and tried to make it compassionate, kind, safe.

But now I’m done. I see now that leaving doesn’t mean I didn’t love. Rather, I’m saying goodbye to places that refuse love.

I have spent most of the year laying down my life for the sake of others learning to love  – showing people the pieces of my broken heart and inviting them to put their hands in my wounds that they might not hurt the next person . . . but now I’m done. Because very few people were willing to do the same for me.  Rather than learn to love people with wounds, I have watched people run in fear of being hurt in the same way.

It seems that no one wants to look at hurting people for fear that they might be implicated.

People want to thank me for teaching them, but many aren’t willing to acknowledge that the teaching hurts me. That it actually doesn’t have to be this way. That there is a world where love doesn’t cost my life.

People have put their hands in my wounds and ripped my flesh open. They spat in my face and asked me why I was crying. They kicked my friends and wondered why I hurt for them.

Staying in a place like this isn’t loving.

It causes death.  My death. And I see that now.

I can’t stay in a place that refuses my love. A place with people who are without patience or kindness. Who insist on keeping a record of wrongs. Who envy and boast. People who delight in evil and hide the truth. I can’t stay in a place with people who refuse to protect, refuse to hope, refuse to persevere. I can’t change a culture like this. A place like this. It was foolish to think I could. Prideful, even.

So I’m leaving. And if you’re in a place like this, I invite you to do the same. A lot of times we talk about staying as a brave thing. Staying in a marriage. A church. A family. A school. But when we talk about staying like it is unequivocally good, it hurts people who are being hurt. Abused. Oppressed.

Let me invite you to leave.

Leaving can also be brave. Strong. An act of courage and love.

I am leaving because I love myself.

I am leaving because I want to love others.

I am leaving because I believe there is something better than this. I believe in a place where love doesn’t cost my life. I believe in it so much, I’m willing to leave this place. Leaving is an act of hope. It can be different.

And if you need to leave, I invite you to do the same. I’m out here on this journey, too. It’s messy, but I believe in the journey. I believe in hope.

I’m leaving this place and I’m leaving for love.