“I don’t do break ups well. Once you’re gone, you’re gone.” A friend of mine was talking about my leaving, and was half-kidding (I think!). I can understand the sentiment. A clean break generally hurts less in the long run. As that old song says, “Breaking up is hard to do.”
Like my friend, I tend to handle change in the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ way. It’s not that I don’t care, I truly do! I’m like Mr. Knightley talking to Emma – “If I loved you less, I could talk about it more.” When there is so much to say to people I care deeply about, my way of coping has been to say very little. Just move on, and let it alone.
Of course, that is not healthy. As we’ve all learned, if you don’t confront the pain and grief now, it’s sure to show up later, often when you can least handle it. I did not grieve my mother well, and so when a friend died a couple of years later, my world crashed down around me. Yes, I did care for my friend, but the grief was for my mom, and I could barely function.
My Spiritual Director, who has walked with me for the past five years, has told me she is concerned that I say goodbye well. For their sakes, yes, but also for my own. Leaving those we love is a big deal, and acting as if it is not is not okay.
C.S. Lewis has this cool quote about love. He says to love is to be vulnerable, it is to open you heart up to be broken. He says the only way to safeguard your heart is to keep it locked up. That way, it will never break. Instead, it will become unbreakable, irredeemable. Yes, you are safe, but oh, at what cost!
I can leave my life here with my heart safely tucked away. I can protect myself so that I don’t have to use the tissues I’m carrying everywhere, or stammer out barely intelligible things as I fight my tears. As I’ve shared, I’m an ‘ugly’ crier. I do that thing where my voice breaks and catches. Then, the drippy nose starts! It’s not a pretty sight, and gets really awkward really fast.
But, the alternative is to pretend my years here have not been significant. To ignore the people who helped re-introduce me to Jesus. Or, truly, helped me meet Him in a personal way for the first time! It was here I started to live for Jesus by seeing Him lived out in the lives of others. And, crazily, in some small way, I have been able to show Jesus to them in return.
That is no small thing, and to just walk away is not how to honor and celebrate God’s goodness. He deserves the glory, and I think He can be glorified through bittersweet tears. Through facing the grief and allowing myself to be present in this time of leaving-taking.
So, fair warning, friends, I’m not good at breaking up, but I’m going to try. I’m not going to leave here without getting weepy. Without telling you I love you. I can pretty much guarantee it’s going to be messy. In the end, you may wish I’d just go away. It may break our hearts, but we know that some day all brokenness will be forever healed, and we will never have to say goodbye. Until then, get ready… here I come!