The Pain of Good-bye

If you are breathing and have some semblance of a pulse you are fully aware that life hurts. Pain is as normal as the rising of the sun and often as consistent. We experience physical pain when we need a root canal (is ANY pain worse than tooth pain???), we suffer the agony of regret (which in many ways NEVER goes away), and we painfully grieve significant loss in our lives (which we adjust to but never know when it will hit us again from out of the blue). There is another type of pain though that is unique to itself: the pain of good-bye.
The pain of good-bye is particularly challenging for me. It calls out to me, tempting me to linger and hold on when I need to move forward. It fills my heart with the regret of missed opportunities and the grief of losing the proximity to people I care about. It hurts and hurts deeply. I actually got a little bit angry a while back because I knew that leaving here was inevitable and I was frustrated that once again, I would have to say “good-bye”. Mind you, not because going would be frustrating. On the contrary, “going” is exciting! Going though, by necessity, means good-bye.

As I sought to process my “good-bye” emotions over the last week or so, I have found comfort and grace to say good-bye. While nothing will soften the pain that I feel so deeply, I have found much encouragement within the sorrow.

The pain of good-bye means that people have touched my soul. My pain reminds me that I have let people in and they have left an indelible imprint on my life. I know I am different and I am better for it. The Wednesday night group I served with at Verde Baptist, the congregation I was privileged to worship with at River Community Fellowship, the concrete crew in Sedona, and my co-workers at Walmart have all encouraged, strengthened, and challenged me. I saw in myself areas I would never have seen without them and grew in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise. I was taught lessons in humility, leadership, and service. 

The pain of good-bye also reminds me that God is good. He put me in a place to be with people who would be used by Him to continue His work in me. His sovereign grace put me in a place to grow as well as a place to enjoy with people I grew to love and who grew to love me in return. Some lessons were difficult with a struggle all their own but God in His kindness allowed those lessons to be taught in an environment that was enjoyed.

Lastly, the pain of good-bye means there is the joy of hello. I really am not leaving as much as I am going. The future is full of hope and excitement which is filled with people who will touch my soul (and I their’s I pray). While I am indeed sad to have worked my last shift at the Cottonwood Walmart and preached my last sermon at River, my entire family is beyond excited to see and experience what God has for us in Alaska. Good-bye reminds me there is more good to come.

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