Missionaries say good bye a lot. At first I didn’t know if I would ever get used to loving so deeply and then tearing apart my heart. I thought about my options. I could build a wall around my heart and never love fully, never share myself with anyone, never connect beyond the superficial. Or I could throw my whole self into loving people in the moment, not considering that one of us will be leaving in the future, and take the risk. I chose the risk. Over and over again, I chose the risk.
Even though I didn’t want to become hardened and calloused, it just sort of happened after so many good byes. I still love deeply, but the tearing apart isn’t so raw and damaging. Now it’s more like a “see you later” either later in another Earthly location or later in Heaven. But either way, it’s a hasta luego not an adios. It’s become a part of my reality. People come and people go. I come and I go.
I live more in the moment that I have ever done before. I think this is the best way to handle all the change in my world, but it does feel so cold and sterile when I come to the moment of saying good bye to someone I really have connected with. A fellow missionary friend said, “We never lose friends, we just collect new friends.” I have a huge collection of friends… that I have said good bye to.
It’s hard to express to someone just how much they mean to me in the time we spend together, yet I don’t shed a tear when they leave. I feel so heartless. I’m really not that cold. But if I cry for one person, I have to cry for everyone. And I just don’t think I can do that. It reminds me of when we went to see “Schindler’s List”. I knew the story of the Holocaust, so that wasn’t a surprise. But I couldn’t bring myself to cry for one person because then something in my head told me that if I cry for one person, I have to cry for the millions of others as well. The dam would break and I’d never stop the tears. That’s how I feel about saying good bye. I just can’t cry any more, but my heart still aches each time.
In my opinion, this is the absolute hardest thing about being a missionary.