I HATE saying goodbye. I’m talking about long-term goodbyes, not the conversational ones we throw out at the end of a dinner or after church on Sunday. Those are fine. Easy. It’s the “I don’t know the next time I’ll see you again” goodbyes that I hate. We say these goodbyes when we move away (which we’re doing in 2 weeks — read this if that is news to you), or when people we love move away. Sometimes we say them when we move churches or schools. The saddest goodbyes are when a loved one dies. Even though, if they are believer, you know you will see them again, the temporary separation is painful.
But as much as I hate goodbyes, I know they’re necessary. We learned, in a missionary training session over a decade ago, a truth that has stuck with me:
“Good goodbyes allow for good hellos.”
When we acknowledge the beauty of our friendships, the pain involved in leaving people and places we love, we are able to say goodbye in a healthy way. We don’t leave words unspoken. We are sad – very sad – but we don’t compound that sadness with misplaced bitterness or regrets. So we just deal with the sadness. We verbalize what we’re really feeling. That helps us feel the freedom to establish new friendships in our new places.
When we are honest with others – and ourselves – we can take the root issues to the Lord, and He will help us through them. When we refuse to recognize the real problem – whatever it is – we feed into the lie that it is something else, someone else, that is the problem. This leads to depression and heartache. We pull away from the Lord instead of drawing near to Him.
Right now, I have a couple issues that I need to daily bring before the Lord: 1) I don’t want to leave special people and places! I don’t want to make my kids leave best friends, churches, and schools they love 2) I am scared I won’t make new friends in my new place. I’m scared my kids will be miserable and will look back on this and hate us for making them move.
When I focus on those issues, I live in fear. I am stressed and miserable and overwhelmed. I need to seek the Lord to help me replace those thoughts with truth. Truth is found in God’s word.
Right now, I am memorizing and meditating on Isaiah 26:3-2 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” I also recall Prov. 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Dave and I have sought the Lord, and He has led us to San Diego. I can trust God’s guidance. I can lean on Him. And I can follow him – no matter the cost – because He is worth it.
If you’re dealing with some “goodbyes” right now, let me encourage you to be honest about how painful they are. Tell people you love how much you love them. Drive by your favorite spots in town and recall the good times you had there. Cry. And, most importantly, let Jesus bear your burden. Cry to Him, lean on Him, listen to Him. Change is HARD. There’s no way to make it easy. But change can be good because it can draw us closer to the Savior, mold us more into his image, make us better equipped to serve others.