teach me how to say goodbye

I’ve never been good with goodbyes. I think I’ve always associated them with abandonment and the stench of a failed relationship. But I’m learning that sometimes, goodbyes don’t have to do with either of those two things. Sometimes goodbyes are ways that we transition out of seasons and into new ones, and sometimes, goodbyes are ways we glorify God.

I’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of people I love in the past year, and believe me, some of those goodbyes were painful and ugly. But, some of those (while they were painful) were not hideous. Those were the goodbyes that were fond ones. Those were the goodbyes that were made as you hugged the person tightly to you because of how much you love them.

Right now, there are goodbyes that I have to make because time is marching forward and God is moving people on to new things in life. Other goodbyes are being said because the seasons we were meant to be in each other’s lives are coming to a close, and that’s okay. It really is.

Another type of goodbye I have learned to make is one where I have to do the stepping out, because God needs to step in. This is the hardest goodbye for me, because I wouldn’t necessarily be the one to move on, were it up to me. But I’ve learned that God calls us in and out of places that we may not necessarily want to be in, and whether or not we chose to be obedient to this call is really up to us.

My mom was the one who taught me this lesson: Sometimes we see a person hurting or struggling, and we want to help. We want to shower them with all the care and love we can muster, and shield them from whatever harm could possibly come their way. Do not get me wrong… a heart that yearns to love in such a way is a beautiful thing. But I have also learned that a heart like that is a double edged sword.

What if we are  trying to help a person, and are only in fact enabling them?

What if we’re standing in the places in their lives that only God should be occupying?

Are we helping or are we hurting?

Are we pleasing God or are we playing god?

I think of Rapunzel in her tower (typical me). Safe from the world, protected from harm… and sure that’s nice, but it wasn’t until she left the confines of her tower that she learned the lessons that shaped her character in the end. It wasn’t until she experienced both hurt and happiness that she could truly see and appreciate fullness in life.

I hope I’ve never been a Mother Gothel to someone, good lord… but I know I’ve been a tower to people. Keeping people safe, keeping people sheltered, keeping people feeling loved… but also hindering them from what it looks like to live a full and complete life in Christ. That is when my help has turned into harm.

I am learning that a heart that wants to care and protect others needs to first be pressed up against the heart of God. I can only truly help others if I am first being continually filled with His Word and His Spirit. My ears that long to hear the stories of others needs to first be bent to seeking the voice of God, so that I can hear Him telling me what He wants me to do.

My own pride has hindered me from doing this. My belief in my capacity to help has really only hurt some people… because guess what, I’m not perfect… and guess what, in those times, only God can do the healing. My fear of being alone bleeds into my love for people if I’m not careful, and it is in those situations where my intentions are no longer pure. It is then that I cling onto people not because I want to help them, but because I don’t want to be alone.

So I commit to learning to place myself in the center of God’s will, that I may glorify Him with my life. I commit to bending my heart in prayer until I hear from Him, and I promise to not move until I do. I commit to waiting patiently on the God’s answers, God’s promises, and God’s Word. I commit to praying for the people in my life… the ones still in it, and the ones that I have to say goodbye to.

As much as I’d love to hold everyone I come into contact with close to my heart, I’m realizing that is just not possible. I’m realizing that desire actually stems from something that can only be fulfilled in eternity when we’re eventually all with Christ. Until then I’ll continue to cling tightly to my Heavenly Father.

And He said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me“. -Luke 9:23

-Soli Deo Gloria


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