It’s one of the most painful things we have to do.
It makes our life feel transitive, impermanent, without real physical or emotional ties. It hurts.
It’s a struggle for my kids in particular. This hurts a mother’s heart.
We do it here, then we have to do it again in Uganda.
We have to say goodbye.
We say goodbye to family. This grows harder each time we see them. People grow and age and life circumstances change. Will this be the last time we see my grandma? Our parents? I hope not, but there is no way to know. Will my kids still have fun with their cousins next time they see them or will they have changed so much that there isn’t a connection anymore?
We say goodbye to good friends, people who are like family to us. Unlike family, they have no obligation to us. It’s more of an effort to see them and sometimes we wonder if we’ll ever have another chance.
We say goodbye to people in our church, both our home church in the US and our churches in Uganda. Some of our Ugandan church members emigrate to other countries and we might never see them again this side of heaven.
We say goodbye in each and every church we visit where connections are made. People are busy. I’m busy. We go on with our lives and don’t keep up with those connections like we should.
We’ve said goodbye to missionary friends on the field as they move their family back to the states. Their children are friends with my children. It adds to the isolation we sometimes feel.
Technology is a wonderful thing. It means my kids can keep in touch with people in the US, even talking with them face to face from time to time. They can know their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. They can see their friends.
But technology is a double edged sword. It also means we keep busier than we ever have before. Social media makes us feel connected, but the connection is on our own terms, at our own convenience. It can increase feelings of loneliness for people living overseas, because we see all the activity of those in the states and we feel left out. Even worse, sometimes we struggle with feeling ignored, insignificant, and forgotten.
So, as you pray for missionaries, pray that God will give grace through the goodbyes.
(Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a downer, but merely to express one thing we face and deal with as missionaries. We say goodbye and go on in the joy of the Lord. Some days, however, it is a struggle.)