The Big Goodbye
There has been a “mass exodus” at work lately. I am not sure that it is over and I wonder who is next. This is a letter that sums up my recent response to my former colleagues -(DC JK JS KS BS CK CV)
Here’s the thing, and it is not a hidden or new thing, I hate goodbyes. This reality does not change the older I get. The reality that does change is the number of goodbyes I have had to say. In ministry there is something different about the relationship with co-workers that happens through the ebbs and flows of life in addition to work. It is the weird dualism of family and work, of fellowship and responsibility, of work and play.
There are many kinds of goodbyes – and of course some of them are easier than others. Some are forever and others are just for a few hours, days or weeks. Some are even good riddance! But, the blessing of most goodbyes is that there was a hello. There was a time when we didn’t matter to each other because we didn’t know each other. Then it all changed. Our lives intersected. We got to know each other and care about each other. We spent quality and quantities of time together. We became part of one another’s stories.
I love the story of Elijah and Elisha and their friendship and joint ministry in the Bible. They too had a hard goodbye. Elijah was being taken to heaven in a fiery chariot as Elisha refused to leave, calling after his mentor. The point is that these two were partners in ministry. Goodbye was hard because ministry had been good. We have enjoyed ministry as we have watched God’s grace on the move and as His pen wrote our chapters together. We have been sharing one another’s company for years. Years of fun times, deep conversations, challenges, adventures and everything in between.
Rather than focus on the going, I am grateful for the coming. You came into my life for a season and stayed. You listened. You prayed. You valued relationship. Thank you. Thank you for your presence and your involvement in ministry and my life. Thank you for your friendship and, even though I don’t want to learn to live without your daily presence in my life, I am so glad you have been there for a while.
The word “goodbye” was shorted from the phrase, “God be with you”. So just as one day in the past we greeted one another with “hello” now I gently say goodbye. God be with you as you go. God be with you as you say hello to new people and grow in His grace during your next chapter. God be with you as you embrace new relationships and holiness. God be with you until the long hello of heaven.
I could quote several cheesy and cliché songs in closing:
Michael W. Smith: “A lifetime is not too long to live as friends.”
Elphaba in Wicked: “I have been changed for the better because I knew you.”
Hawk Nelson: “We’ll hold you in our hearts forever and a day. And we’ll never be the same”
Grateful for the hello,