A Good Good-Bye

Originally posted on Miss P’s Ponderings on June 29, 2012

Recently, I’ve been pondering “good-bye” a lot.  It seems a couple of our sweet families at church are relocating soon, which means saying good-bye to friends and cherished children.  I must confess….I’m not good at good-bye.

As I’ve contemplated “good-byes”, my mind first returns to 1986.  That was the year of the first “good-bye” that hurt my heart in a memorable way.  Before that, I had had the death of a grandmother, aunts, and uncles.   In 1977, at the age of 7, I didn’t really understand the impact of good-bye when I went to my grandma’s funeral. Obviously, those were sad events, but my age was young so my heart didn’t quite grasp the good-bye.

However, in 1986, Tommy & Becky announced their upcoming move back to Tennessee.  You see, Tommy was our youth pastor and Becky is his sweet wife.  He had served at our church while pursuing his ministry degree from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  Being only an hour away from the seminary affords our church the opportunity to get many talented young ministers to serve our church family.  However, it also means that for part-time ministry positions, they don’t stay more than a few years, as God leads them into full-time career ministry. 

Tommy came to Calvary when I was only an 8th grader.  Through the ministry of him and his wife, I grew in my Christian walk as a disciple of the King.  They were probably the first people, outside of family, that I had actually allowed myself to get close to, so their upcoming departure was difficult.  I remember building a wall around my heart as their final weeks passed by and being called into Tommy’s office.  He called me out on my attitude and reminded me that “good-byes” aren’t easy for anyone.  Yes, he cared enough to be straight with me, so the wall came down.  My friends moved to Athens, Tennessee.  I think I began the longest letter of my life…as I wrote them often and mailed huge letters.  It was my way of dealing with good-bye. 

Later, when I went to Carson-Newman College, their alma mater, I remember going to Athens to visit a few times.  Their first son was a baby, and now he’s out of college.  Yep, this was a long time ago, but the emotions I felt when they left are still fresh in my heart.  Good-byes are hard on the heart, even when you know it is God’s leading that prompts the departure.

 When he (Paul) had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them. They all cried as they embraced and kissed him good-bye.
Acts 20: 36-37

Yet, I must also think of the joy of the good-bye at the end of each school year. It never fails; a couple students will ask me at the end of the year if there’s a chance I’ll be moving to fourth grade.  I assure them that even though they won’t be in my class that I will always be their third grade teacher, and I remind them they can come visit me when they feel the need.

However, thinking of student good-byes also reminds me of students who move during a weekend without prior knowledge.  They’re here on Friday and excited about upcoming activities, but on Monday…their names are off my class list.  They’ve left their friends, their school, and all their “things” in their desk.  I often wonder if they’re ok with the quick departure.  Then, I lift up a prayer for them and their new teacher…hoping that the move is the best for all.

This past Sunday was the day when I knew that “good-bye” would be the topic whenever I wrote another post.  Last Friday, Andy & Ashley shared at small group that they would be moving to Indianapolis for Andy to take a new position.  After Adam and Amy had announced the same thing in May, I had anticipated that this couple wouldn’t be far behind since Adam & Andy worked together.  So, expecting it eased the intial shock of the announcement, but it didn’t buffer the pain in my heart.  I joked that they just needed to make sure their new house had a guest room for teacher-friends to visit during school breaks.  Then, on Sunday, during the “fellowship time” of the service, I went over and gave Ashley a hug.  This caused a lump to form in my throat.  Then, as I stood at my pew singing praises to God, I looked up to see Andy playing the guitar on the praise team.  The lump became tears and I cried through the song.  Yet through the tears, I thanked God that He was taking them closer to family and providing Andy with a job which would hopefully provide him joy and the opportunity to shine.  Yep, I’m not good with “good-bye”, but fortunately my head is wiser than it was in 1986 and the walls aren’t being built.

Then David bowed three times to Jonathan with his face to the ground. Both of them were in tears as they embraced each other and said good-bye, especially David.
1 Samuel 20:41b

But, all of these good-bye I’ve shared are temporary.  These are all people that I can see during vacations, in the school hallways, or stay up with through e-mails and Facebook (thanks to the technological age we seem to be living in these days). 

However, on Monday, another good-bye entered my throughts.  This good-bye was to a sweet, sweet Christian woman by the name of Nellie.  On Monday morning, a prayer mail arrived in my inbox letting me know that she had passed away.  So, I knew another good-bye was here. 

I must admit that even though I was saddened by the fact that I won’t see her sweet smile on Sunday mornings, I actually rejoiced.  You see, the love of her life, Bob, passed away last December.  I remember thinking back then that I just couldn’t imagine Nellie without Bob.  They were always “Bob & Nellie”, so I knew that the day she said “good-bye” to this life…she was saying “hello” to Bob.  More importantly, she was saying hello to heaven…to worshiping her Savior.  How can that leave me sad?

Yes, my head and heart have been dealing with good-bye a lot lately.  In May, I realized that little Lydia wouldn’t run up to sing with me in DiscipleTown on Wednesdays this fall.  At the end of May, I accepted that the 45 students (homeroom and language arts class) who knew me as their teacher would be leaving and consider someone else that title in the fall.  On June 22nd, I discovered that lunches with Ashley, praise team practice with Andy, and laughs with little Liam would soon be in the past.  On June 25th, I rejoiced that Nellie said “good-bye” to us but “hello” to Bob.

In the 30+ years I’ve been experiencing “good-bye” to people who have a place in my heart, I’ve realized that the good-byes that are temporary are much easier to accept than those which are final or questionable.  I think of people in my life who have passed away whom I don’t know if they have accepted Christ as their Savior.  Those good-byes…those are the hardest.  So, I encourage you….ensure you don’t have to face those painful good-byes by asking those you love, those you care about, those whose paths you cross if they know Jesus.  If they don’t, introduce them.  You’ll be glad you did.

Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.
John 16: 19, 20, 22

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