I absolutely hate saying it. In fact, I don’t really know anyone who is OK with saying it. Some people are better than others at saying goodbye, but I don’t think anyone actually enjoys it.
I would even go so far as to say I abhor the whole process. My thinking tends to be, “We know it’s happening, so why must we spend any more time acknowledging it than we have to?” Let’s move on already.
Part of the anguish of goodbye comes from my experiences as a kid. I moved a lot, or at least I felt I did.
Some people are better than others at saying goodbye, but I don’t think anyone actually enjoys it.
When I was four, my family moved from Ohio across the country to Oregon. I didn’t care. I was a kid. I remember telling my neighborhood playmates, “We’re moving to a place called Oregon tomorrow,” as if we were getting ready to take a vacation. “I think I get to ride in the moving truck,” I boasted. I’m sure I completely made that up.
Then, when I was 10 we moved from Oregon to Utah. That was a bit more strange, but still an adventure. I had good friends, but no concept of what moving away from them really meant.
I didn’t realize that I would not see them again for several years, and that not every neighborhood in America had kids at the ready, willing to play whiffle ball in anyone’s backyard at any time. I left a great neighborhood, with great whiffle ball players.
But it was fifth grade. Friends came fairly easy and whiffle ball was replaced by Atari.
I had good friends, but no concept of what moving away from them really meant.
When I was 16 we moved from Utah to Ann Arbor. That could be described as more than mildly devastating. In the span of six formative years, I had come to faith in a community that was 99.9% Mormon. I had formed deep bonds with the .01% of girls my age that were not Mormon.
I introduced them to my youth group, which consisted of me and one other girl. We went to Christian summer camp together in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho. We learned about Jesus together. We had crushes on boys. We listened to alternative forms of rock that our parents didn’t understand.
We lived in the mountains and went skiing all winter long. We learned how to drive in those mountains …. with manual transmissions. We went to our first dances together and coped with the awkwardness.
Life was about as ideal as it could get for a self-conscious teenager battling hormones and braces.
And the friendships in Ann Arbor didn’t come as easily at 16 as they had at 10. Saying goodbye proved quite painful, and I never wanted to do it again. Fast forward many years and I realized, as an adult, that I had the ability to control if and when I moved.
Saying goodbye proved quite painful, and I never wanted to do it again.
I could control my departures, but I couldn’t control others’. People we loved dearly—brothers, sisters, parents, friends—have moved away, though we have stayed put. I hate to admit it, but I’ve almost grown cold to the idea of leaving.
It takes effort and emotion to say goodbye and I’d rather not do it, thank you.
I could control my departures, but I couldn’t control others’.
Pastor Scott’s sermon addressed head-on the reality of saying goodbye. It was an unabashed farewell, a wonderful way to say adieu. The stories of the Bible’s goodbyes he shared reminded me that, as painful as departing can be, the bonds that are formed that make departing difficult are something to be grateful for … to celebrate.
This particular sermon was personally appropriate because it came on the eve of a week when I had to announce to colleagues at my job, where I have been for more than ten years, that I would be leaving to take a new position elsewhere.
And while I’m excited for the opportunity, I had been dreading telling them because (in case I haven’t said it enough) I hate saying goodbye.
Where there are genuine relationships, there are genuine reasons to acknowledge them, celebrate them, and mourn their loss. Pastor Scott’s message could not have been more relevant to me this week. The Lord really does know something about timing …
The stories of the Bible’s goodbyes he shared reminded me that, as painful as departing can be, the bonds that are formed that make departing difficult are something to be grateful for … to celebrate.
I haven’t had a chance to say goodbye to Pastor Scott and his family, but I am so grateful for the time they spent with us. I am thankful that Pastor Scott shared his stories and his faith in skilled and engaging ways. I am thankful for his authenticity, for his loving kindness, and his wit.
Unlike the Acts 20 account of Paul’s departing Ephesus, when those around him grieved because they felt they would never see Paul’s face again, I embrace the joy of having had Pastor Scott and his family in our midst, and know that we will see their faces again.
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