I am sitting in an airport in Bolivia waiting for a connecting flight. If it wasn’t for a recent glance at a map, I would have no idea where Bolivia is. I am in the city of Santa Cruz. Again, I have no idea where that is. I am craving a mocha coffee but am trying very hard to avoid Montezuma’s revenge. I have a multi-hour layover on my way to Peru, the final leg of a South America trip visiting two of our missionaries. A trip which I am very thankful the church gave me the opportunity to take.
I said good-bye today. Good-bye to my brother. It would appear that I won’t see him again for around two years. It has me thinking. I remember in June of 2004 saying goodbye. This was the missionary goodbye that all families of loved ones called to be “Goers” with gospel suffer through. It was tough. Very tough. No more difficult than what others have been through. Certainly no more tough than what families in our church did when they said goodbye to sons and daughters heading to war in Iraq. Or the sometimes long goodbye that cancer or disease requires. Or the sudden and unexpected goodbye of the death of a loved one. These all taste the same, some are much more difficult to swallow.
So I said goodbye today. It was strange as the familiar but undesirable emotions filled my heart, then went to my throat in the form of a lump, and found release in my tear ducts. You sometimes wonder if being together warrants the pain of not being together again. Yet we all know it does. But its got me thinking. Why do goodbyes feel this way? Why are they so painful?
Surely God didn’t intend it to be this way? Was there a twinge of hurt when the duties of the Garden took Adam and Eve apart? If the Fall had never happened, would goodbyes be as joyful as hellos? We don’t know. We do know that we hate goodbyes now.
Have you ever considered why you don’t mind saying goodbye in some situations? It would seem that the amount of sorrow we feel in the goodbye is some measure of the love of being together we have in our hearts. In this way, goodbyes are decent love indicators. Since loving each other in family and church relationships is a duty and a calling, we are destined to a lifetime of painful partings.
Would we really want it any other way? To have no sorrow would be to have no love. A life situation more painful than any goodbye could ever be. So as I sit here in the lonely airport, it would seem to me that what we all should strive for is sadness in saying goodbye. For relationships whose separation reveals the preciousness of our time together. In short, for true love with brothers and sisters whether they be biological or spiritual. And in the pain that parting brings to realize the intensity of God’s love and His desire to enjoy true and eternal fellowship with us. A fellowship with Him and with all who love Him that will never again include a goodbye.
© 2009 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction.