We are continually coming and going and so “Hellos” and “Goodbyes” are a natural part of our lives. Even though small, these are actually quite meaningful moments as we greet and depart from each other.
I’ve had my share of “goodbyes” lately as Judy and I prepare to leave family and friends for India. Of course, we’ll be back and so many of our goodbyes are not forever. But we never know what may happen to our loved ones or how things might change over several months, including where we might live when we return.
So the “goodbyes” have been hard. The hardest have been with family. Our four children all converged on Colorado last weekend. We were totally surprised. They left their own kids with their spouses and came to say “goodbye” and support us before we left on our mission. We had a wonderful weekend together, not doing anything special but mostly visiting and enjoying one another’s company. Monday morning came too soon. We arose by 5:00. Our kids were already up and about ready to go. We gave each one long, last hug and they were off to the airport in the car they had rented.
Saying “goodbye” can bring up a lot of emotion—love, appreciation, anxiety, sadness. Most of us have not been taught how to deal with these emotions and so we repress, deny them, or distract ourselves from feeling them by staying busy or over-dosing on media.
But it is good to feel, no matter what is coming up. So Judy and I have tried to stay in touch with our feelings as we say “goodbye” to our family and friends and even the community in which we’ve lived for 23 plus years. Sometimes Judy will cry (she calls it releasing). Sometimes I cry. I actually consider her fortunate because the tears flow more easily for her than for me.
I woke up about 4:30 a.m. last Tuesday morning to some pretty big sobs. They came in about three or four waves. At first I didn’t move but gave Judy space to feel. After a time I reached out and put my arm around her which resulted in even more releasing. After a while I invited her to talk about what she was feeling. It was a myriad of emotions—stress, sadness, even inadequacy—as we say “goodbye” to a comfortable lifestyle and ponder taking on a new life and roles. Judy likes to say that there is no growing in the comfort zone nor comfort in the growing zone. I guess we’ve entered the growing zone.
I feel it too. Not too many days ago I had to call a time out for myself and separate from the people I love and activities of the moment to do some grieving. Tears came up and out, sadness about saying “goodbye” to friends and family members, knowing that some of them I may not see again.
And at certain moments when I lie on my bed and deliberately quiet my mind, I feel a sensation of pure anxiety in my chest. The feelings are real and intense. I allow them to come up and simply notice them until they recede.
The feelings don’t frighten me. I know they are authentic. They emerge from deep within. They are my mind and body speaking to me. If I’m willing to listen and trust my feelings they run their course and in their place I feel a quietness and gradual emergence of more positive feelings.
Actually, I feel quite excited and confident about going to India. I look forward to meeting some amazing people, making new friends, partaking of an incredible culture, and taking on new and different responsibilities. The growing in the un-comfort zone is worth it.
When you receive this newsletter we’ll be on a flight from Chicago to Abu Dabi on our way to New Delhi. I recognize that we’re only able to make this journey because we’re willing to say our “goodbyes.” And part of saying our “goodbyes” includes feeling the emotions that come with “goodbye.” It is, after all, feeling our “goodbyes” that enables us to go with excitement and confidence.