Straight from a Savouring Heart
By Lisa Elliott
Have you seen the television show Hello-Goodbye? In the show, a man walks through the Toronto airport scouting out people who are either welcoming or sending off loved ones. Each person he encounters has a story to tell—often through tears. I have to admit, it’s not one of my favourites. Not because it’s a bad show. Rather, because it’s my reality. Perhaps it’s yours as well?
I’ve never liked goodbyes. But I grew to absolutely dread them after the death of my 19-year-old son Ben. As if that final goodbye weren’t enough for this mother’s heart to bear, two days after his funeral our oldest daughter, Natalie left the nest to explore the next chapter of her life; traveling the nation with a ministry team based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Those travels led her to her husband of six years and they now live in rural Manitoba with their two young boys, my grandsons, Seth (2 ½ years) and Jaxon (8 months). Due to the distance between us, we spend way too much time in airports! The cost to fly from Ontario to Manitoba prevents frequent visits. And even if we had more frequent visits, the fact would remain that no matter how long the visit, a goodbye is always imminent and another trip to the airport looms ominously. Therefore, from the time that Natalie arrives until the day she leaves, my heart is in turmoil. I try desperately to saturate myself in the time we have together; making the most of and savoring every moment, enjoying every conversation, immersing myself in every activity, celebrating every meal together, basking in each other’s presence, sopping up every millisecond of snuggles with my grandsons and treasuring each new memory in my heart. But I must admit, knowing the pain of a pending goodbye makes it challenging.
So, how do you fully savour each moment without allowing the next moment to rob you of its joy? The Answer is by living in the moment. It’s a place I learned to live after Ben’s leukemia diagnosis. And I find it comforting to rehearse the principles and reapply their salve with every hello and goodbye.
Take the time to taste the tears. Life is full of goodbyes, disappointments, loss, and pain. So we need to take the necessary time to grieve our losses and feel the pain. If we don’t, we run the risk of trapping ourselves in the moment rather than living in it and having freedom to move on to the next. There’s healing in tears. They are God’s salty healing agent. He collects our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). And one day, He’ll wipe every one of them from our eyes (Revelation 21:4).
Accept your circumstances. It is what it is. Like it or not, life happens, circumstances interrupt the rhythms of life, hardships and trials invade our normal routines and babies leave the nest. The other option is to curl up in a ball, stop risking, stop investing, and quit initiating or engaging altogether. Avoiding anything that would potentially inflict pain in its finality. Do we have to like it? I don’t think so. But there’s a difference between liking our circumstances and accepting them. Besides, what good does fighting the inevitable do other than rob us of the joy of each moment? It’s in our pain that God teaches us and trains us in holiness. Looking beyond our present pain with hope of a greater purpose at work (Romans 8:28-29).
Embrace the new normal. The new normal is not necessarily a bad normal. It’s just different. However, in order to embrace the new normal you must let go of the old normal. It means dropping expectations that life will ever be the same as it once was. It was never intended to be. It’s all a matter of perspective. Will you run the risk of missing out on all God has in store in the future by holding onto the past?
Celebrate what is. We must focus on “what is” rather than “what was” or “what may never be”. “What is” is our only reality. Each moment is a gift never again to be retrieved. Live each one to its fullest with no regrets and no worries; seizing and celebrating each one as it comes and in whatever form it takes! Turn your “Goodbye” into a “See you next time!”
Pain and joy. Laughter and tears. Blessings and curses. Hellos and goodbyes. All of them mix in mingle in a painfully beautiful co-existence. Just think, one day there will be no more tears, no more sadness, no more pain, and no more goodbyes! In the meantime, let’s savour every moment we’re given.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10, NIV).
About this Contributor:
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org