Because I grew up with a father in the military, most people would assume that saying goodbye is second nature to me—I even find myself assuming that sometimes. However, as the years go by, I’ve found that saying goodbye never really becomes any easier. If anything, you just get more used to it.
Why is saying goodbye so hard?
Saying goodbye is hard because it requires letting go—of friendships, of futures, of plans. When we’re no longer able to interact with friends on a regular basis, it’s easy to feel like we have no control over the relationship anymore.
A lot of times, it can seem like you’re saying goodbye forever. You may not know if or when you will ever see this person again. Saying goodbye can feel unjust, like something of yours is being unlawfully taken from you.
Goodbye is also hard because, despite its frequency, each time involves new contexts, new people, new relationships, and even new words. Every goodbye feels unique and hurts like the first time all over again.
When faced with something so painful and, at least for me, so frequent, it’s easy to despair. But, one thing I rest in during such times is knowing that goodbye is not the end.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 “ For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”
For everything there is a season
These verses from Ecclesiastes help me to find comfort in saying goodbye by reminding me of the seasonality of life. There are seasons in life that are devastatingly hard, and there is often nothing we can do to avoid them. But, the hard things in life are often necessary parts of the good things.
As Ecclesiastes shows: we cannot have peace, unless we have had war; we cannot sew if something has not been torn; we cannot build something up if it has not been broken down. Not only do hard things in life create the opportunity for good and joyful things, but hard things also help us to more fully appreciate and cherish the good things when they finally arrive.
Painful means to a better end
Rather than proclaiming a backwards, upended sort of prosperity gospel that suggests the more grief you experience, the more joy you’ll be rewarded with; I mean to suggest that sometimes life’s hardships can be the means to a better end.
Every time I say goodbye, my heart breaks a little bit more. But, as my heart heals, which it always does, I find new wisdom and thankfulness in my scarred heart than before.
The next time you are faced with a painful goodbye, allow yourself to feel the hurt, but don’t let your journey end there. Run to our Heavenly Father who understands the grief of the moment and allow Him to change the way that your eyes see and your heart feels for the future.