The Art (Or Not) of Saying Goodbye

I very distinctly remember sitting with my mom in my room one night, 6 years ago, tears of frustration and sadness, and yes, might as well throw it out there, of major “pity-partyness”, rolling down my face.

I had just started college a few weeks before that, and I had already pretty much determined I’d have to drag my feet there and somehow make it through the next 4 years. Side note- I LOVED college and the wonderful friends I made there, but my 18 year old self wasn’t that convinced that first month…and part of it had to do with the fact that most of the people I was meeting seemed to not only be making new friends at college, but also had old friends from high school and even elementary still around to hang out with.

Having grown up going to a bilingual missionary kid school all my life, most of my close friends happened to be well, missionary kids, which meant more often than not, that the airport become my second home at the end of the school year, as my friends’ families relocated back to the States (or other countries) be it for furloughs, the end of terms, the start of new responsibilities or placements and then later as we got older, for graduations and the start of college. As the years passed, I still had friends that I had made through Carachi, be it teachers or friends that were younger than me. My aunt and uncle’s family also hosted mission teams from Ohio for almost 10 years every July, where wonderful and deep friendships were established in a short amount of time, so when the week came to an end…off to the airport we went.

I’ve never been a fan of saying goodbye and quite frankly the adjectives of mysterious and complicated never quite got used to describe me,  (OK, maybe my husband would have something to say on the complicated part…but anyway…) as many times my emotions are right there on my sleeve for the world to see, accompanied by a full glass of tears.

And that is why I felt so frustrated that night and vented to my dear mother that it just wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that many of my friends had moved away. It wasn’t fair that I was always saying goodbye. And it certainly wasn’t fair that God had put me in a place where I was always going to have to say goodbye to people due to being in a missionary and international circle.

Wow. How unfair to get to experience and learn about a variety of cultures. How unfair to meet people from all over the world. Oh the unfairness of making friends with people from so many different walks of life. What a tragedy to have had a variety of people present in different stages of my life.

It was later that night that all of that hit me. The beauty behind the goodbyes. The beauty of the wonderful hellos that came before that. Of meeting people one day and then be it days, weeks, months or years later, having them become such an important part of your life. The greatness of being able to let new people into your life on a regular basis, without removing those who have left from your heart along with the marks they have left in your life, or shoving to the side those who have remained present. And in today’s day and age, we can reap the benefits of technology and being able to communicate with loved ones all around the world.

My attitude changed that night and I was able to see beyond the goodbye and the hurt of that moment, to the blessing that was present in the memories shared and the strong love that makes that goodbye hard. The Lord gently reminds me of that every time another goodbye is present. I sure am glad I don’t have to say goodbye to Him! And it certainly doesn’t mean the tears and sadness are any less present when the time does come to say goodbye to a loved one. The Lord is faithful and relationships are one of His most beautiful gifts to us!

This year was one of goodbyes. I said goodbye to my “people”, my go-to group, my biggest cheerleaders, my family. A group that maybe I thought I wouldn’t ever have to say goodbye to (especially since I told the Lord once that I would never live in the States…but that is a story for another day…) and who always stuck by me as my constant, unchanging best friends. My dad told me that day at the airport to be strong and to remember that the Lord is faithful. And He is! That goodbye came because I said hello to my *excuse the cheesiness* Prince Charming who swooped into my life when I least expected it. I said hello to what has been the biggest adventure ever and I wouldn’t go on it with anyone else! And though I cried the day I hugged my family good bye, I can’t help but think what a blessing to be sad that I was leaving them! That we have such a close and loving relationship that saying goodbye wasn’t a time to cheer and say, “Finally!” But to say goodbye with much love in our hearts, knowing that really, it’s a see you later, and that we would continue loving each other, cheering each other on and being dear friends despite the distance. Which has most definitely been the case!

This week brought about my first major goodbye on this side of the world, where people weren’t returning to their homeland, but rather, saying bye to dear friends setting off on a new adventure, filled with excitement, nervousness, but most of all, faith that the Lord was the one leading them on. Monday night we said goodbye to our awesome neighbors and friends, a couple that has so blessed us individually and in our marriage since starting our own adventure as Mr. and Mrs. Joppeck. It was a tear-filled time, but also a moment of gratitude at the deep friendship formed in these 6 and a half months, gratitude for thought-provoking conversations, yummy food shared in our homes and hours of game nights and laughter.

The Lord IS faithful and He hears our prayers and cries out to Him, and what a blessing He gives us in bringing about hellos through goodbyes, gratitude and love, and a wonderful community all over our cities and countries, which make for planning awesome trips and visits.

I am thankful for the beautiful story the Lord has blessed us with and all those awesome characters that have shaped it and continue to do so each and every day.

Guest Author: Laura Joppeck

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