I recently started a year-long internship with a company just outside of Atlanta. The details of who, what, why, and how will hopefully come later, because that is not what has been running through my mind the past couple of days.
What has been running through my mind is goodbyes.
Even though it has been a warm welcome to the new team for me, it was also the final goodbye for someone already on the team. He had worked with our team for a year and was moving on to a full-time position at his local church. Around the office saying goodbye seemed like a day-long event. Our team went out to lunch, stopped by his office to chat, and even had cake in the kitchen. Throughout the day many people spoke high praises for our teammate, highlighting the joy, determination, love, drive, and life he brought to the team. No matter who spoke, a positive wake of feelings was left after they finished encouraging and reminiscing. People did mention how he did his job with excellence, but the majority of comments were about his character. Although I only knew this teammate for a almost a week, after hearing what high praises everyone had about him I felt like I had known him for a year. There is something about hearing what others have to say about another person that makes you connect on another level.
Alongside my welcome to a new team, I was actually saying goodbye to another one. I had been part of Athens Church for almost three years. I had grown to know and love the staff and culture. It felt like home. While I had actually been out of the office and “officially” gone for about a week, one of the teams I worked most closely with hosted a final goodbye party for those of us who were moving on this year. It ended up being a small dinner at one of the Directors’ house where we all sat around, talked, laughed, and shared stories. One of my favorite parts of the night was going around our team and encouraging the people who were leaving (including myself) with what we appreciated about and learned from them. It was really refreshing to hear the impact each person had left on the church and how much each individual would be missed. It left my heart feeling really full and grateful for the team I was privileged to be part of for the past three years.
This season of life has been full of goodbyes, but they have been sweet moments full of laughter, life, memories, joy, and hope. But as I reflect on a new beginning, I cannot help but thinking about what I want my goodbye from my current job to look like a year from now. While I want to be known for delivering high-quality, timely design to everyone I work with, after hearing how highly everyone spoke of my former co-worker, I cannot help but desire to be known by the quality of person and leader above my work.
Because, work should not define me; relationships are more important.
Here’s to looking forward to a year of cultivating relationships that, in a year’s time, results in a sweet goodbye knowing not only did I leave my team better than it was before I got there, but the other people’s lives I was fortunate enough to be involved in are better, too.