“I’m not sure anything has ever been harder for me–the utterance of goodbyes, the playing out of them, their finality, their void, their distance. Yet there are some distances, some chasms, some signing offs that are purely necessary for life to blossom. Certain things choke us, wound us, and bind us in ways that keep us from new hellos. They deserve a farewell. Still we cling because the painful familiar is often more comfortable than the foreign amazing.” **
The concept of a “good goodbye” seems a little contradictory. If it was good, why say goodbye? But whether it had parts that were good or not is really not the point; the good is found in the need to say goodbye.
The root of the word came from the phrase “God be with you.” Dictionary.com shows its gradual transition…God be wy you, god b’w’y, godbwye, god buy’ye, and good-b’wy. See it transform? Over time, good replaced God, and the whole phrase was shortened. Interesting that the concept of goodbye started with what sounds like a parting blessing. Basically, I’m not going to be with you anymore, but God will be.
While “God be with you” seems like a positive way to leave things, there’s a negative feeling that comes with “goodbye”. So I kept reading. Also listed under goodbye was the definition of farewell: a conventional expression used at leave-taking or parting with people and at the loss or rejection of things or ideas.
Loss or rejection.
There it is. That’s what goodbyes so often speak to our soul. A loss. A change. A parting with. Rejection. Once that feeling creeps in, our grip tightens, and instead of saying “God be with you” to a person, a season, or an event in our lives, we hold on even tighter. We see the impending heartache, and we no longer want to let go.
I’m not sure we were created to say goodbye. When God created Adam and Eve and literally walked with them through life, I believe there was a sense of spiritual and physical oneness that they were supposed to experience. Forever. But sin entered the world. That oneness was broken. And so began the life long quest to reunite with God and experience a deeper level of connectivity that our souls were created for.
The fall brought death. And seasons. And changed the entire structure of the way God wanted life to be for us. Sex is one of the ways God created us to experience that spiritual and physical oneness that our souls crave and were created for. It gave us a deeper way to connect to someone to fill part of the void left by our separation from God (which is also why we weren’t created to have this oneness with more than one person, but that’s another topic for another day).
In Rob Bell’s book, Sex God, He talks about how Jesus used modern-day wedding language to explain to people what heaven would be like. In terms they would understand, he explained the wonders of heaven like the connectivity of marriage on earth. Marriage and sex are to give us a glimpse of heaven, to be a spiritual porthole to the connection our souls crave.
Just a glimpse. Not the main event.
Seeing the ocean through a porthole of a ship is nothing like swimming in the wide, open sea. To feel the sun on your face, the wind in your hair and submerge yourself in the cool water is an experience that can’t be replaced by looking through glass. And don’t even get me started on the wonders that lie beneath the surface of the water! An entire world of intricate and beautiful life that is hidden, seen only by those who dive deep to discover it.
We weren’t meant to be separated from God. We were created to crave connection. We don’t like letting go of something we were connected to. We also weren’t meant to be filled by anything other than God. It’s like filling up a car with dirty oil. It will still run, but over time, the contaminants in the oil will start to damage the engine. It won’t run the way it was supposed to (since I’m probably not qualified to speak in car analogies, I’ll leave it at that). Connection with people and things and seasons is not a bad thing (although, it can be. People and things can “bind us, choke us, and wound us” as Kelly’s quote at the beginning said. Those who aren’t good for us, but we cling to because of the comfortable familiar when God wants to help break us free). What’s bad is when good things replace or take away from the connection we were meant to have with our Creator.
I wonder if some of our goodbyes are to point us to a deeper dependency on God? That the connections in our life may have become replacements. That the flow of seasons and the entering and leaving of people is to keep our focus intact. That people, events, seasons, and things were all meant for good, but their excitement upon entering and their transition of leaving is to keep our oneness with God as the main event in our life. That our deepest desire, above all is, is to live in oneness with Him.
“We have to believe that where God wants to take us will be better than what we’re clinging to, even if we can’t imagine it.”**
I believe that God can use scarcity, desert experiences, and even goodbyes to bring us to a deeper place of dependency in Him. “God be with you” as you experience the good in goodbyes.
(Originally written June 8, 2012)
** Kelly Minter, The Living Room Series: No Other Gods