Goodbyes are tough. Some are tougher than others, I suppose. But, no matter the degree of toughness, I don’t really like them.
Charlie Brown often used the phrase Good Grief. For all you Charlie Brown fans out there, you know it is synonymous with “dang” or “really?” Being a parent is full of these “good grief” moments, but it is also full of grieving moments.
As a parent, you say goodbye to various seasons of life for your kids. You say goodbye to holding their hand, you say goodbye to tantrums (now, that is an easy goodbye!), you say goodbye with them as boyfriends or girlfriends move on (yea!) and you say goodbye with them as they experience the passing of loved ones.
Eventually your kids move on to their own lives, often in towns and cities outside your own little world. It’s hard. The back of a U-Haul truck with your kids driving it down your driveway – not a sight you want to see often!
We just went through that again as a family, and the goodbye is taking us a while. There’s sadness and there’s some grieving going on.
The grieving process is hard, but in the midst of it, I am learning that there are elements within it that are good.
I find myself cheering for the well being of my kids. Grief is good when we become thankful again for what is before them. But it takes time and usually a little help to get to that spot, where we are more focused on them and less on our own sadness.
I started learning about grief when I was young and my father passed away. That was a hard and long goodbye. Teri & I experienced grief as all of our kids moved on and out of the house, off to strange and foreign lands like India, California, Colorado and Oregon.
But the good that we have built into the relationships with our kids trumps the sadness & grief of the good bye. Good always wins.
Getting to the point where the good can win is difficult. If it were up to me, I’d just ask God to make the grief and sadness go away. But that is what is cool about God’s character. He doesn’t do that; He isn’t into the “quick fix” that we love. Instead, He brings His unvarying character, full of light and truth, to our grief and meets us in it. He journeys with us.
Good comes to grief in the nature and person of God.
As we process this most recent season of goodbyes, I find myself thankful. I miss them, of course, but I am so thankful to actually feel the hurt of my kids moving away than to not feel it at all. Apathy is a lousy anesthetic.
What about you? Are you in the midst of good grief? Can you see some on the horizon? Kid going off to college, friend or family member moving away, family member or friend nearing the end of life…it won’t be easy. But you know that.
Be encouraged today. Go and build some good into that relationship. Take a day off work or disrupt your routine and go visit someone who won’t be with you much longer. Be intentional, and pack the visit with plenty of time for simplicity and meaningful togetherness. You’ll be so very glad you did.
You can do this! You will be an ambassador of the good nature of God as you go. Go in faith, believing that you’ll change the world. You will.