This week at Velvet Ashes our theme was “leaving” — life is fill with it, isn’t it? It was a powerful week (you can see Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s posts) below is the final post of the week (and written by me).



Here we are again. Friends having a conversation.

There is a lull. At first it’s comfortable, but then it grows and we both know something of substance needs to be said. But who will be the first to say it out loud?

I look away because the moment is poignant and heavy and precious. I don’t want to miss it, but I hate the weight of it.

You’ve probably sensed it this week too. The dance between guilt and shame and hope and longing and sadness when it comes to this topic of leaving and being left.

In the posts and comments we’ve heard echoes of

  • We are long termers
  • I’m not a quitter
  • I’m committed
  • It seems easier to leave for the field than from it

I’ve known for weeks I’d be writing this post. God and I have gone around and around about what to say. It hasn’t been like having a quaint cup of tea and scones while we chat; in the best sense, I feel like I’ve been mud wrestling with God. I really have so much to say, it might take a book. Instead of having this be a confusing post because I try to shove too much in, I’m going to share one thing God said in relation to leaving.

Leaving is your birthright.


This week, I’ve been struck by how much guilt and angst and judgment we feel around leaving and being left. It took all I could when a close friend told me she was leaving the field not to grab her shoulders and scream, How can you leave me?! Who will get my jokes? Who will go to Pilates and share in my quirky stories? Who will know why asking about trains is funny? How can you do this to me?

But I didn’t. “Yes, yes, I can see God leading.” I could. And. I wanted to ask God why the high-ho he didn’t make it better for her.

Leaving is your birthright.

In an instant I had to sit back, take a breather, wipe the mud off my brow, and let that settle in.

Look at some of the leaving woven throughout the Bible. Loot at the way it informs and shapes us as a people. Look for where your story intersects theirs.

  • Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden for their protection.
  • Cain left because of his sin.
  • Noah and his family left everyone they knew through a natural disaster.
  • Abraham left to follow a call into the unknown.
  • Rebekah left for marriage.
  • Jacob left the first time because of family drama (part his own doing), returned home because of a clear call by God (Genesis 31:3), and a third time because of famine.
  • Leah and Rachel left to go with their husband and family.
  • Joseph left against his will.
  • Moses left twice, once by himself and later with a group that vacillated being for him and against him.
  • Aaron and Miriam left with their people, the people of Israel and to help their brother.
  • Naomi left because of a famine and returned because of the loss of her husband and both sons. The devastation of her family.
  • Ruth left out of love and obedience.
  • Hannah left her son with Eli and for a life of service to God.
  • Esther left her home due to political changes allowing her to serve the king and her people.
  • David spent much of early adulthood moving and not settled, never sure when it would end.
  • Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego left against their will, prisoners really.
  • Many of the prophets traveled, compelled to share a message, forced to sleep in many beds.
  • Jesus left his rightful place in heaven to come to earth for us.
  • Paul is known for his three journeys and the way he loved some he met and became so frustrated with others.
  • You left (and maybe left and left) and have your story.
  • I left (and left and left) and have my story.

Leaving is our birthright. 

One of the greatest gifts the Bible offers is the ways in which it mirrors who we are. We are people who leave. Who leave in response to calling and crisis. We leave because of family and love and politics. We leave at times against our wills and at times brimming with anticipation. We leave early in life, in the middle of our story, and when our bones are tired. We are described as wanderers and sojourners. 

God, in his infinite mercy, kindness, and love has woven leavers, stayers, and those who were left throughout his word. The bible doesn’t just tell us who God is, it tells us also who we are. Apparently he doesn’t see people as long- or short-termers. He doesn’t see leavers and stayersWe are described as beloved children. 

We see people having crazy (and at times sinful) responses to leaving. Just take one of the above scenarios and for a moment place yourself in it and imagine the conversations! Girl, we get it, don’t we. We are described as people of faith.

Leaving is our birthright.

Yes, it is hard and tumultuous. As Danielle said, it’s like concentrated lemonade. It cuts to the core of our identity. But what God wants us to know is he cuts deeper. He gets it. But more than understanding us, He loves us. And someday, someday, staying will be our birthright. Staying with God. Staying in our perfected personalities. Staying with those we love. Staying in safety and freedom and pure environments. But for now. For now.

Leaving is our birthright.

Wow, there’s more in the Bible about leaving than I thought. How does the word “birthright” change all of the leaving in life?

Leave A Comment

  1. Lois Siemens May 22, 2015 at 7:11 am - Reply

    Thank you for this thoughtful and provocative piece. I will chew on that for awhile.

  2. Gayl May 22, 2015 at 8:20 am - Reply

    Amy, this is so good. I had never thought of leaving as a birthright before, but it makes sense. We forget that “We are described as wanderers and sojourners.” I guess I never noticed either how much there is about leaving in the Bible. And I’m so glad that God is with us throughout all the times we have to leave or are left. I know I have had a lot of “leavings” in my lifetime, but looking back I can see God’s hand in it, even though at the time it was hard. Thanks for sharing this snapshot into your heart about the issue of leaving. Can’t wait to hear what else you have to say. Maybe you do need to write that book. :)

    • Avatar photo
      Amy May 23, 2015 at 12:51 pm - Reply

      Gayl, knowing a small bit of what you’ve faced this week with the funeral/memorial service of your friend, your comment touches me. I,too, when I look back can see God’s hand and I’m thankful that all this “leaving” isn’t for naught :)!

  3. Diane May 23, 2015 at 9:28 am - Reply

    Amy, this is so so good. Want to tick lots of likes on this. Thank you X

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      Amy May 23, 2015 at 12:57 pm - Reply

      And now I want to put a bunch of emoticons back to you!

  4. Leslie Verner May 23, 2015 at 9:42 am - Reply

    Amy, Thank you so much for this. I often have so much guilt over leaving. A wise woman once told me something after I made that hard decision to leave China which often encourages me in the journey: (Lord-willing) “Life is long,” she said. Thanks for that, too;-)

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      Amy May 23, 2015 at 1:00 pm - Reply

      Leslie, I know I risk elevating myself to being a “wise” woman and I don’t mean to say that, but I have said this over and over to young people I met while working in China. There is an urgency in one’s 20’s to get life “all figured out” — and over and over I’ve told them, “Life is long, just figure out the next step and know there will be more after that.” I need this reminder too!

  5. Megan May 30, 2015 at 9:13 am - Reply

    so thankful for this post, Amy. Beautiful.

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