Because our lives right now are being built up to a time soon where we will say goodbye to Africa, and almost everything feels like a goodbye in some type of way, I got thinking about this goodbye thing.
Let me say upfront: I am REALLY, SERIOUSLY bad at saying any type of goodbye. Having had a brother living overseas since I was 18, and always knowing when I saw him, I’d come to a time when he’d leave again, I thought I’d be used to them. Not even used to them – but I’d find a way to cope and get through them with grace and dignity. Alas. As much as I try, that feeling of dread descends two days before and I get my ugly cry on every. single. time.
Here’s what I figure. Life is just a series of goodbyes. From the moment you’re born, you navigate your way from one goodbye to the next until the ultimate goodbye, which isn’t really a forever goodbye at all. Well, in my books anyway.
You’re born and you say goodbye to anonymity. You are given a name, and a family and you are known. You grow and say goodbye to infancy, to being a toddler, and eventually goodbye to your childhood. You say goodbye to friends, to family. You say goodbye to cities you leave, to places you’ve been. You say goodbye to phases of life, to the people who’ve journeyed with you there. You say goodbye to memories, to pasts, to promises.
Why are goodbyes so hard? I think it’s because I know that even though a piece of my heart stays behind, the time has come to move on and ultimately, the unknown is scary. Do I crave the comfort of all that we’re leaving behind? Leaving behind not only places – but do I crave the comfort of safe spaces, of familiar faces, of people who know what I’ve walked through, a place where I’m known? Um, yes.
But here’s the thing: on the other side of every goodbye, is a radiant hello. Journeying to a goodbye, a point in life where I know I’m leaving behind and entering something new, that’s the glorious part of living. Who I become, what God teaches me, how God uses me, who I meet, who I carry and who carries me, how and for who my heart breaks and mends, how I process pain and elation and what it teaches me, how I impact the world where I am for that time and how my world at that time impacts me, how God can use me exactly where I am because of where I’ve come from – that all brings me to a point of goodbye. But not any less important, is the magnificent hello.
Hello to new friends, while I never forget the ones who’ve marked my heart with their fingerprints already and carry them with me always.
Hello to new beginnings – while I carry the scars of my past, they bear testament to what God has brought me through – a beautiful testimony of redemption.
Hello to new places – my new phase or place will be impacted by all I have become, through the journey God has taken me on. Every heart breaking, painful, joyous, spectacular, nervous, unsure, confident, confused step I’ve taken, God has intended to get me to where I’m standing right now. My story has prepared me for where I’m going.
Hello to the unknown – closing the door on the familiar. Beautifully scary – but I have a God to whom nothing is unknown, and I gotta place my trust there, in Him.
They say if there’s a Goliath in front of you, there’s a David inside of you. I’ve got a Goliath of a goodbye coming up here in a couple of weeks. I’m just praying that the David I have hiding in the coves of my heart pushes through the waves of ugly cry tears and reminds me that on the other end of this painful, heart wrenching goodbye, is the dawn of a glorious, soul shaping hello, whose full impact on my life I won’t be able to see unless I’m willing to try.
One thing I do know for sure though – the One who goes with me, and is taking me there, He knows. That should be enough for me. I’ve just got to be brave enough for the goodbye.