A Graceful Exit

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.” ~ C.S. Lewis

I first learned about the existence of Foundling House when Adam Whipple emailed me, asking if I would be willing to write an article about the labor and craft of writing. I had just been published for the first time by The Rabbit Room, so this was a big boost to my confidence. Someone had read what I wrote, liked it, and wanted me to write for them! As an aspiring writer whose primary outlet had been blogging about my kids and opinions, this felt big.

And it was.

A few months later, Adam messaged me again, this time to ask if I would consider joining the editorial team. I was up to my eyeballs in life, homeschooling, chauffeuring kids to many and nefarious places, volunteering at church, and trying to keep my home at least sanitary so as not to scare unexpected visitors. I prayed about it, discussed it with my husband, and decided to say, "yes."

It was trial by fire. Though I was a decent writer, I had never edited anything besides my own work and my kids’ school papers. Adam, in a marathon phone call over a shared Google Docs connection, taught me the ropes and set me loose.

“Oh, and by the way, you're editing next month.”

I contacted friends I knew who'd always dreamed of writing and being published. This was their chance, and what a privilege to help them realize their dream! Over the next year and a half, every three months, I solicited and edited a weekly piece to share on Foundling House. Some writers gave me free rein to edit, simply giving their approval to the final product. Others, though, bravely allowed me to do what Adam had done with mego online together and rearrange, rehash, and reshape a rocky first draft into a well-written final draft that preserved their unique voice and vernacular.

One by one, as these stories were published, I enjoyed a front row seat to the authors’ excitement. I stalked their Facebook pages as family and friends shared their posts and bragged on this first published piece. It was satisfying, especially when a few were picked up by colleagues from other organizations to write articles for them.

But life and COVID hit hard, and I found myself struggling to find the time to do this job with excellence. My writers were struggling, too, and the enthusiasm waned as the pandemic wore on and wore us down. Add to that my own personal need for margin and the pressure inside continued to build until I knew, without a doubt, it was time to step aside.

In early Spring I composed a long email to the editorial team with tears in my eyes, finally summoning the nerve to hit “send.” Insecurity told me I was a failure, a quitter, but the voices of those who had pulled me into this circle said otherwise. I was met with understanding and affirmation, encouragement and prayers.

And isn’t that how all goodbyes should be received?

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Ellen Goodman said, “There's a trick to the 'graceful exit.' It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is overand let it go. It means leaving what's over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out."

Janna, Adam, and Palmer were able to recognize my need to step down and understand it was not a rejection of the role Foundling House had played in my life. They helped me to have a graceful exit, one that you probably didn’t realize had happened.

I gained so much in my time with Foundling House, and was saddened when Janna recently informed me that it was time to shut it down. But, like every graceful exit, there is a flip side. Like author Craig D. Lounsbrough says, "A sunset is nothing more and nothing less than the backside of a sunrise."

There is a future ahead for all of us, a sunrise. Much good work is yet to be done as we pursue our calling within God’s Kingdom. I pray we can take what we have learned from this experience and allow it to propel us forward, to even greater and eternal things.

Thank you, Foundling House, for believing in this unknown and barely-read writer. What a gift.

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