I find good-byes awkward and uncomfortable. Yet, life is full of good-byes. I’ve found that I approach good-byes like I approach back surgeries: I put on a tough exterior but my insides are all jumbled. Tonight I said good-bye to some dear friends who are moving to Guatemala. I am so excited for them! As they have shared their ministry dreams with me & Ang, we, too, have caught a vision of what God can do with and through them. They first revealed this dream of theirs several months ago. At that time the good-byes were a long way in the future. Today came soon enough. They hosted a “farewell” party at their home and we were delighted to attend. We stayed as people came and went. The time finally came for our turn to say good-bye and I kind of felt that jumbled up feeling inside. How do you communicate love and appreciation for dear friendship with just an embrace? How can one adequately express gratitude for the spontaneity of our relationship? How can I explain the significance of: Monte Cristo sandwiches, little times of great wisdom shared, the History Channel,”you’re not going to be a missionary or anything” (ironic) and my favorite, “your belly looks funny!”? Good-byes are just awkward.
And so, a hug, a brief exchange, a brave attempt at holding back tears, and then that stinking pain settles deep within my chest.
The ride home was quiet. There was an occasional sniffle from my eldest daughter who had to work through her own good-byes with one of her best friends. I could only see the top of her head during the trip home. She was quiet, holding in whatever thoughts and grief she may have been experiencing. And then it hit me.
It only hurts for a little while. That’s part of the beauty of the Christian story. They’ll be in Guatemala, we’re in Indiana, and even with best intentions a distance will form. And that’s okay. No matter if we see them later this year or next, there will still be good-byes and life will continue for both of us. But someday we won’t hurt or have to say good-bye. In fact there will be a greater joy because of the distance. God will continue to use them and He will continue to use us to further His kingdom. And we will have much to rejoice over. I fully expect to meet new brothers and sisters in Christ because of the population growth in Guatemala that occurs this Tuesday. Who knows what great things God has planned?
Someday soon we will be all together worshiping in the presence of our God. And Jesus is pretty clear that there won’t be any pain there. All those things will have passed away for good. No pain, no sickness, no death, no tears. It will all be gloriously great.
So, yes, today my insides are jumbled. But I keep telling myself, “It only hurts a little while…”
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