Wrapping up a present for my son’s friend, I found myself gently sobbing in the quietness.
Sandwiched in between leaving parties and goodbyes, those tears caught me off guard. This particular friend of my son – his best friend – is really more like a brother than a friend. He’s been an incredible gift to my son, and his whole family a precious blessing to us all. It’s a particularly hard relationship to say goodbye to, even though skype, emails, texts and visits will continue to keep us connected.
I’ve been surprised at when my tears have come. And when they haven’t. They haven’t come in the big ‘goodbye’ events. Not because I’ve been holding them back: they’ve just not been the emotional times for me. They’ve come in the quiet times, the unexpected times; the times when I’ve had space to reflect on the depth of relationship with various individuals.
When we first knew that we were leaving Sheffield I remember feeling like God wanted us to fully invest in our relationships right until the day we left. There’s a temptation in a transition period to start to withdraw in relationships. It feels easier that way – less painful and less vulnerable. But it’s also less meaningful.
It’s right that we feel pain and loss in relationships as we leave. We can only feel loss when something has value. If we lose an item we don’t care about, we shrug our shoulders and move on. But if we lose an item that is precious to us, we feel sadness in its loss. Infinitely more when it comes to relationships.
To fully give means at times we experience loss too.
It’s a heavy price. But it’s a price I’m willing to pay. To hold back emotionally, and merely maintain shallow relationships feels like a greater price. Yes, I would never feel hurt or loss in the same way, but neither would I feel the joy that I have come to know in precious relationships.
So as we say goodbye to those we love in Sheffield we know it’s not the end: just the next leg of the journey. And as we enter our new season we’ll be looking again to give ourselves fully in the relationships placed around us.
It’s the only way we know how.