During my loss, I realized that life is a series of many temporary goodbyes. Those experiences prepare us for a more permanent, lasting goodbye. Think with me about all the temporary goodbyes we endure. Sometimes, those goodbyes are traumatic.
“And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again.” Acts 20:37-38
For example, a newborn cries uncontrollably when separated from the mother’s arms. Then while still very young, and a babysitter would come in the door, a baby knows the parents were saying goodbye. Even though it’s only a couple of hours, a toddler doesn’t know that and panics. There are also those weekly experiences of being dropped off at the nursery at church. These are just short separations, hours at the most.
“The only relief I can find is in the certainty that this life is not the end, but simply the preparatory school for the real and the endless life that is beyond.” Theodore Cuyler, God’s Light on Dark Clouds
Then there are the times when parents go off for a weekend to get away. Or Mom or Dad goes on a business trip. Mom goes for a women’s retreat. Dad goes away for a men’s retreat. Then when older, a child says goodbye when going off to school every day between first and twelfth grades. And then a young adult goes off to college. The goodbyes get more difficult, and the periods of separation are more enduring. Then there’s that question: “Who gives this woman?” And then that Scriptural instruction in Genesis 2:24 where a man is said to leave his father and mother. Goodbyes are exchanged for even longer periods of time.
Then, children are born, and the cycle of goodbyes begins, once again. The series of goodbyes comes full circle in this training, this preparation in learning to say goodbye.
Life is a series of preparatory goodbyes.
“The sorest misfortune that could come to anyone would be never to die.” J. R. Miller, The Ministry of Comfort
How do you prepare for these goodbyes? Beyond these preparatory experiences, the greatest grounding is to be in relationship with God himself. His Spirit is our constant Comforter. Companion. His Word is our firm foundation. His Son’s birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection provide hope in life’s good and bad situations, in each of the goodbyes. Dependable. Consistent.
Especially for the hardest ones.
The gospel is the power of God. He and his work on the Cross are the reason we can mourn, or say goodbye, with hope. We can mourn with hope through the goodbyes. Why? Because resurrection looms large in the face of all our goodbyes. There is a greeting in eternity awaiting us with no more goodbyes.
No more goodbyes.
Remind yourself, through every separation, there is a better story beyond the seen and temporal goodbyes in your current story.
Life is a series of goodbyes that leads to an eternal welcome.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24