The word goodbye has always been a part of my life. Over the years, I’ve switched schools five times. I’ve had different friends at different schools, and every time I leave, I have to say goodbye. Because of my parents’ work, I live in a country different from my passport country. When our summer visits to my passport country come to an end, I have to say goodbye to relatives and friends because I won’t see them for a year or two.
As a TCK, I have struggled with painful goodbyes. It’s horrible because my attitude becomes, “Since I’ll say goodbye anyway, why bother investing in this friendship?”
It’s not that I don’t want deep friendships. I do, I desperately do. But I lie to myself so that I won’t go through the pain. I say that it isn’t a big deal if I don’t put my heart into something, because it’ll be gone soon.
Dear friends just left the country I live in. To me, they were the embodiment of what it meant to love others. They lived here for only two years, but when they left, I felt, like so many others did, as if they had been here for ages. They invested in dozens of families and people, and they were generous, encouraging, and loving. They didn’t hold back. They gave so much of themselves that when they were gone physically, they remained in the hearts of many.
When they left, it hurt. I felt like a part of me was ripped out because they had been such a huge part of my life. Even now, I struggle with wanting to block out the emotions.
But my friend told me something she heard years ago: “This hurt that you’re feeling, it’s okay. It’s good, even. Not everyone experiences so much love that taking away that friend takes a part of them too.”
That might sound obvious, but just the fact that the pain was good is such a powerful reminder for me.
These pain-blocking, goodbye-normalizing walls are not only bad because they prevent friendships, but they’re also sinful. They’re sinful because I don’t see the people I interact with as worthy of my love. I don’t see people as valuable, eternal humans created in God’s image and will be impacted by the way I choose to love them or not. My walls seem to protect me, but all they do is create more damage.
I harbour God’s love. And as a child of God, my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. God uses broken people as a means to bring other broken people to the perfect Father. When I choose not to love others, I choose to not show them God’s love.
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:10–11 ESV
Think of how painful it must have been for God the Father to be separated from His Son. The different persons of the trinity were in perfect communion. He had to punish and be estranged from His Son, yet He loved Him. And He did this because He loved us, who were incomparably less worthy of love than Jesus. If we don’t deserve all that love, why do we build these walls to protect ourselves from fleeting feelings? Why do we do this when eternal lives and souls are at stake? Are we really that selfish?
If God loved us, we ought to love others too. And when the pain comes, we rejoice because we have loved and have been loved. We rejoice because our pain is temporary. We rejoice because if a loved one has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, we have stored up heavenly treasures and the friendship with that person will never end.