Good byes

We just got back from a long day of visiting Joel…just not long enough. Plenty of time in the car–more than enough of that. Never enough time with Joel. That is the way it always feels, so you’d think I might be getting used to it by now. Sometimes I surprise myself by how melancholy I still feel as the day draws to a close and we say our good byes. I guess there are some things I’ll never get used to. One is saying good by no matter how many times I’ve done it in my life.

When I was a child we moved a bit because of my parents’ missionary career. But unlike many missionaries I know, we did spend the bulk of my growing up years in one place. With the exception of a couple home assignment years interspersed in kindergarten and sixth grade, I spent all my school years at the MK school in Venezuela.  Still, since growing up, the inevitability of the transient lifestyle that often goes with foreign missions has meant more than my share of painful partings, and dreaded good byes.
As a child I said good by to my grandparents and lived a life they were rarely a part of because of the distance. Each time one of my close friends went back to the US for a year of home assignment there were tearful good byes. When Joel graduated a year before I did and moved back to the US we faced months of separation with no internet or phone to enhance communication. I have said good by to my own parents more times than I can count, leaving them behind in a far off land.

Many a dear friend has slowly faded into the past, because of the miles that come between. I hate that. I want to hold onto those I love, friendships I have invested time and energy, pain, and tears into. I want to stay invested. It hurts when that just doesn’t happen.

In our first twelve years of marriage Joel and I moved 13 times. You would think I might be used to saying good by. But I’m not. I have considered a monk’s response of withdrawal.  I have even tried to take the buddhist approach. Perhaps if I don’t care, it won’t hurt so much.  Neither has worked for me.

Instead I ache with each good by.  Each friendship that dissipates leaves an emptiness inside. And I wonder what I can do differently. Perhaps I invest too much. Perhaps I care too deeply. But perhaps what I experience is merely another part of the curse. Perhaps it is another reminder that we were made for better, we were made for so much more than this world has to offer. And perhaps it is a reminder that my greatest comfort in life, my greatest security comes not from my friends, my family, even my husband, but from the One to whom I never have to say good by. He is always with me, and He is always enough.

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