Life is A Series of Goodbyes: 2 Ways I Managed the Last One

I figured out a long time ago that in life, we say goodbye a lot. Not just the end of day, “See you tomorrow” kind but the “I’m not sure we’ll ever see each other kind.” And every kind of goodbye in between.

Saying goodbye is hard.

And it seems that no matter how many times you do it, it doesn’t get easier.

You’ve probably said your share of goodbyes too and most of the time, you wish you didn’t have to.

As a teenager I visited my mentor who had moved from Ontario to BC. When our two-week visit was over he drove me back to the airport, pulled up to the departure doors, stopped long enough for me to grab my bags, gave me a quick hug and drove off. Apparently he hated goodbyes. We laugh about it now.

Yup, life is a series of goodbyes alright.

  • when we move
  • when we change jobs
  • when we graduate
  • when a friend moves away
  • when children leave home
  • when a colleague gets fired
  • when we get downsized
  • when we break an old habit to start a new one
  • when we break up with someone
  • when a new chapter begins

2 Ways I Managed to Say Goodbye to My Son

This past Saturday we dropped off my son at the Toronto airport; something we’ve done a few times over the past year. But this time was especially difficult. Mostly because he may be gone for 2 years. There’s a chance he could come home for a brief visit, but that’s not guaranteed.

Everything from check-in to customs went as smooth as possible and within minutes he was gone. I strained to look over the barriers for as long as I could (security kept pushing me back) before he disappeared.

That all too familiar lump in my throat and pain in my chest was back. And I didn’t like it…not at all.

He had only been home for a couple of months but I enjoyed every moment we had. Which is one of the reasons it was so hard to say goodbye.

So my heart is a little raw today as my mind routinely flashes to Los Angeles to picture what he is doing and how he is settling in. I’m actually sitting in the dark listening to sad music as I write this.

(1) Children are a gift from God, but not one I get to keep for myself

It’s true that when we first married, I didn’t want children at all. But children certainly are a blessing and we are privileged to have a daughter and son now both in their 20’s.

From the time our children were very young we tried to have a vision for their lives moving forward. We’d talk about the future, their strengths, their interests and dreams and together we would paint verbal portraits of possibilities. Those pictures never included them staying at home into their 40’s and living in the basement as a tenant, so I guess I should be encouraged that Alex is spreading his wings.

In fact, we want our kids to be healthy functioning adults prepared to set a course for themselves.

I’ve loved every stage of our kids growing up; but they’re at the stage where saying goodbye is hard. They’re not just going to a friend’s for a sleepover or summer camp for a week. It’s tougher now…and yet at the same time a good thing. I have to remember that he was never mine to keep for myself.

(2) God has a better plan for his life than I do.

This may sound weird, but I guess we’ve kind of seen our kids as being on loan to us as we had the privilege of parenting them. But our parenting is basically done now. We still have a relationship with them, in some ways, better than ever. But it’s different now.

Maybe I’ll need to trust God more than ever too?

Faith has been central to our family which means we’ve tried to recognize that our lives are meant for something bigger than our family. They are meant to bring glory to God by how we live out his plans for us. We haven’t always been great at focusing on that, but it’s true nonetheless.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph 2:10

I love this verse. Imagine…God has things for us to do and He’s determined them long before we were even born. How awesome is that? When it comes to our children we have simply encouraged our kids to get to know God and determine how He has created them to do the things He wants them to do.

To me this is the secret to a fulfilling, meaningful life.

Out of a relationship with God, discover who you are, how He’s gifted you, and what He has for you to do. Then do it for His glory and for the sake of others.

I think this is a good plan for anyone’s life too. Have a relationship with God; discover how He has uniquely made you and gifted you, and discover the things He wants you to do with the opportunities He gives you.

How about you?

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be?

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