Saying Goodbye

For the past several months, I’ve been saying goodbye a lot. I’m at a phase in life where things are changing, and in order for new beginnings to start, some things have to come to an end. When I was discussing this with a mentor of mine earlier in the month, he said to me, “There is a blessing in saying goodbye. People get weird about goodbyes, so practicing saying godspeed often will serve you well in life.”

In my experience, this has been true. People do get weird about goodbyes. For me, goodbye brings about this odd mixture of giddy nostalgia, unspoken regret, and a twinge fear. But whatever the combination of emotions is, we don’t actually talk about those things when we say goodbye. We say “see you soon” or “good luck” or sometimes nothing at all… Sometimes not saying goodbye is easier.

It reminds me of the song “50 Ways to Say Goodbye” by the artist Train. In the lyrics, the singer laments a breakup by listing increasingly bizarre and fabricated excuses he will give to friends who ask about his (now ex-) girlfriend’s whereabouts. Between stories of “eaten by a lion” or “drowned in a hot tub” or “danced to death” the singer repeats the couplet, “Help me! Help me! I’m no good at goodbyes…Help me! Help me! I’m all out of lies.”

Through the humor of these lyrics, Train reflects the unpleasant reality in life that change is constant. Instead of acknowledging the real emotions that change creates, it’s sometimes easier to just ignore it. It’s easier to lie—to the world, and ourselves—about how change makes us feel.

But it is in these moments of change that our faith is more relevant. As I’ve been saying goodbye so frequently, the practice has made me realize the fundamental essence of what I believe. If I could sum up my faith in one sentence it would be, “The end is never the end.” Exile from Eden wasn’t the end for Adam and Eve. The flood wasn’t the end for Noah. Slavery wasn’t the end for Joseph. The desert wasn’t the end for the Israelites. The cross wasn’t the end for Jesus.

The end is never the end!

When Jesus sent his disciples forth, he knew their journey would be full of goodbyes. But he told them not to worry about inevitable changes. In Mark 6:10, “He said to them, ‘Wherever you go, stay until you leave.’” In other words, Jesus teaches us that wherever we go, don’t worry about the goodbyes—don’t relive the nostalgia, don’t regret what didn’t happen, and don’t fear what will happen next—stay present, and enjoy the time you have.

As little orphan Annie teaches us, an emotional goodbye is a sign of a truly special time together. In the Broadway play of the same name, as Annie hugs her temporary family for what she believes will be the last time, she says, “How nice it is to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Whatever changes you may be facing right now, may you stay until you leave, knowing that the end is never the end. And when your goodbyes come, may they be hard, at a testament to truly special time spent with those you love.

Godspeed!

Zach Herzog

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