Human beings are complex creatures, and often we don’t know what is driving the way we feel.
I was musing on this recently, as the day grew nearer to farewell our dearly loved son and daughter-in-law, about to set off on their big adventure to study and work in America for at least a couple of years.
Knowing we were soon to lose these two people who light up everyone’s lives gave me a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach. Of course we want them to go on this big adventure, but there is some grief at the thought of being left behind for such a long time—the first time we have experienced a long separation from them.
However, the wonderful thing about the way God created us is that as human beings we have the power of choice in how we respond. We can choose to be miserable and dwell on the loss of something, or we can try to overcome that and share in the excitement of what will be a very positive experience.
I’m not saying it’s easy—it isn’t, but it’s definitely the way to go.
Another aspect that makes the departure of loved ones easier is by embracing the ritual of saying farewell for now—and Godspeed.
In our case, we gathered the immediate family and had an intimate dinner at a favourite restaurant. As it was early in the week, it was a quiet night which gave us plenty of time to chew the fat, and really get into the spirit of their joy at their big adventure.
Of course, there was the obligatory group photo for Facebook, which I will treasure. Then it was time for last hugs and realising that this was it, a moment to celebrate with these wonderful kids and realise that as parents we have prepared them well to soar on their new adventure.
While it would be easy to be teary about it, after the bear hugs I felt an amazing sense of lightness. Having had the chance to have some special time with them, and being able to ask God to keep them safe in his arms, changed what might have been a sad time into a joyous time.
And in these modern times, technology comes into its own, as we can still see them every week through the magic of Facetime phone calls or Skype.
The Bible is full of reflections of our humanity, and as I thought about the whole concept of saying a temporary goodbye and letting go, I recalled some wonderful words of comfort.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30, verse 5).
How true that is!