The word “goodbye” has always been a part of my life. I’ve switched schools five times. I’ve had different friends at those different schools, and I always had to say goodbye. I live in a different country than my passport country because of my parents’ work. When our summer visits there come to an end, I have to say goodbye to family because I won’t see them for a year or two.
As a TCK, (third culture kid), I have struggled with those goodbyes. It’s horrible because my attitude becomes one of “since I’ll have to say goodbye anyways, 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 I won’t have to 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, anyway.
Dear friends just left the country I live in. To me, they were the embodiment of what it meant to love others. They only lived here for two years, but when they left, I felt, like so many others, like they had been here for ages. They invested in dozens of families and people and were generous, encouraging, and loving. They didn’t hold back. They gave so much of themselves that even when they were gone physically, they remain in the hearts of many.
When they left, it hurt. I felt like a part of me was being ripped out because they had been such a huge part of our lives and they were always so loving. Even now, I struggle with wanting to block out all 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 aren’t just bad because they prevent friendships, they’re 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 human beings created in God’s image and will be impacted by the way I choose to love them or not. My walls might seem to protect me, but all they do is create more damage.
I harbor God’s love and His Spirit in me. 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 and give them my time and love, 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
Think how much it must have been painful 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 God the 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 try to protect ourselves from fleeting feelings? Why do we do these things when eternal lives and souls are at stake? Are we really that selfish?
If God loved us, we ought to love. 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 the loved one has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, we have stored up heavenly treasure and the friendship with that person will never end.