Well, I am ready to be done saying goodbye.
This past half a year has included the sad departure of three families that were very close to ours. Unfortunately, I don’t mean the kind of move where we can pack up the car and see them in a few hours, I mean they went from West Coasters to East Coasters.
Though it’s not really funny, we’ve started to joke, “Don’t get close to us, or you will probably move away!” But yah, funny is not really the emotion that goes with this season.
It’s more like sadness that comes in waves. In one sense everything is really okay, blessings abound, there’s plenty to be thankful for, we are surrounded by plenty of quality close relationships and life keeps moving on. Yet, on the other hand, there is a definite realization of loss. There are tears to be cried. There is this specific type of emptiness – not the dark aching kind that accompanies the lifelong separation in death – it’s more of an emptiness that’s coupled with anticipation. Anticipation stemming from a hopeful expectation that the friendships will continue to deepen across the miles. There’s an optimistic anticipation because their future (and ours) is in God’s hands. But most notably, we anticipate the day, in eternity, when goodbyes will be a thing of the past.
One day these relationships we were meant to have and to cherish will be forever. We will get to live alongside, serve God alongside, and just enjoy life alongside all of our dearest friends. No friendships will be lost, only plenty more gained. But in the meantime, there is much to be learned from these present goodbyes …
– Relationships matter –
In the busyness of life, it’s easy to get focused on the tasks, the lists, the projects, and just the demands of daily life. While there is work and responsibilities we ought to take care of, the heartache of watching a friend (or a family member) leave, reminds us that people are important. Super important.
When we give that last hug we gain a little perspective. We realize in that moment, the pain is present because the person, this friendship, really mattered in our lives. We are reminded that the people God has placed around us are worthy of our time, our attention, and our love.
It’s good to remember this not only when friends leave, but to cherish each one that stays.
– Invest while you can –
Life is not entirely predictable. Not at all actually. We have no idea who will be with us in 5 years, 10 years, or even next year for that matter. This is obviously not only the case in regards to where people live, but who will live. We have limited days with the people we love, and thus we should invest while we can.
We should show our love, we should be there when we’re needed, and we should do what we can to make a difference in their lives. When departure happens eventually, in one way or another, regret will be minimal if we gave of ourselves for the benefit of others.
– Life is bigger than us –
When God moves people around we realize life is not all about us. For if it were, we would do it different, would we not?
Often times we have no idea what God is doing, but we can be sure he is doing something. He has the big picture in mind, and though it’s a tough pill to swallow, it ain’t all about our comfort and happiness. There are souls to be won, there is truth that needs to go out, there are ministries that need to be created or grown, there are churches that need to get stronger, there are people to reach out to, and God is placing people into the sphere of influence he wants them in for different seasons.
And no doubt he is growing us in the process – those who go, and those who stay. So when pity parties begin to spring up, we must remind ourselves this life is not about us and our comfort. God has big plans he is working out – we just need to trust him and keep going.
– We are not living for this life –
Letting go of our desire for the comfort of nearby friends doesn’t mean it is bad to want that joy. We were made for relationships, and we were not made for separation. God created the former, sin caused the latter.
But one day this will change. And that future life is what we should live for. We are here for a short time, and as my pastor says, we are here to “get the job done, so we can go home!” So it’s okay that life has harder seasons, it’s okay there are tears to cry – this is only temporary, our time here will quickly come to a close.
We’ve got to keep living life, keep focusing on the obedience God is calling us to today, and remember this is all fleeting – including the sadness of goodbyes.