Embracing Goodbye

Our recent life change occasioned an above average amount of goodbyes last month. I’ve never been one to relish partings (who does, really?), and these farewells were no different.

We said goodbye to a church body who had provided a livelihood and supported our ministry. We said goodbye to students who had become a very special part of our lives. We said goodbye to a small group of friends who acted as family in the absence of our own, who hosted baby showers, shared yard equipment, served and prayed with us.

Our transition had been in the works since September, but the finality of our move wasn’t real until we started saying those goodbyes. Despite looking forward to a new season in life and ministry, there was a bittersweet edge to each hug and handshake. Each explanation of our move held hope for the future and a bit of dismay at what, and who, would be left behind.

Embracing GoodbyeI wasn’t sure how to navigate the sadness and excitement without feeling disingenuous to one or the other. I’m ashamed to admit I snuck away from a couple of gatherings early to avoid the sadness of a last goodbye. When a goodbye was unavoidable, I assured myself right along with others that this wasn’t farewell forever. And though the likelihood of us visiting Coeur d’Alene again is high, the vague promise of seeing people again felt weak.

When faced with long-term goodbyes, it seemed easier on my heart to say, “see you soon.” I could avoid the well-spring of emotion attached to parting with certain people by assuring myself that this wasn’t going to be the last time I saw them. But, saying “see you soon,” left so much unsaid.

I didn’t tell some people just how much their generosity and service meant to our family. I didn’t tell some people how much our coffee dates brightened up my days. I didn’t tell some people how much I admired their intentionality and thoughtfulness. I didn’t tell some some people how much I appreciated their consistent prayers. Because I said “see you soon,” instead.

Embracing goodbye acknowledges that there are seasons in life. Some of the sweetest relationships I’ve had have only lasted a short while and I’ve struggled against that fact. People and places will come and go and our inability to accept their transience diminishes the lasting influence a seasonal circumstance or relationship can have.

Embracing goodbye helps acknowledge the impact people have made on your life; each goodbye a little pile of stones to remember what God did through that relationship. I have many little piles of stones from our time in Coeur d’Alene and I thank God for what He accomplished through each person those stones represent. I only wish I had embraced goodbye more wholeheartedly in person.

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13 thoughts on “Embracing Goodbye

  1. Very well written thoughts. Goodbyes are hard – they force us to think about how much we’ve invested and been invested into. Thanks for posting. :)

    1. Thanks Jessiqua! My “see you soons” began to feel like a disservice to the relationships I had made, like I wasn’t acknowledging how much each person meant to me.

  2. Seems like new beginnings and goodbyes are part of life as a pastor’s family. I tend to avoid difficult feelings too, but you’re right — it’s better to face them head-on and truly let people know how much they’ve meant to us. Good luck in your next adventure!

    1. And it somehow feels more difficult because of the nature of the relationships you build as a pastor. Thank you for the well wishes!

  3. This makes me think of college graduation earlier this year. Some friends and I knew, though we might physically see each other again, we would never *all* be together again without some miracle aligning of time and frequent flier points.

    Great thoughts, Em!

    1. That was very much my experience, too, Rachelle. I went to college in Missouri and moved back to California when I graduated. My college friends are so very dear to my heart and made a lasting impact during a very formational time in my life. It’s difficult that we are all spread across the country!

  4. I often say that my perfect life would involve gathering all of the people I have met and loved into one place. Goodbye is hard but those friendships teach us how to be friends to others. Your family and new adventure has been in my prayers.

  5. Yes, As it is to say goodbye , I am often reminded to look at it from see you again ! As I rejoice for what time we had together . My friend and Praising God for the blessed gifts we had with the time he provided in you and Your Tim and baby! I know you will be missed in my heart ~ Words and the Heart work you provided me will always be cherished! God Bless you and your adventures and when I am in Stroudsburg or Lake George or on my travels , I will surely look for you at your church ! Keep up the blog and know you are always in our prayers Gfamily~

  6. Hmmmmm ….I’m very behind, as I’m just now seeing all your good-byes and the subsequent move to PA! Wowzas. Moving is hard and good and sticky and messy and burgeoning with newness, all at the same time. But it looks like you’re embracing it well. Hang in there!

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