I feel so heartless

Photo credit: Hamed Saber / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: Hamed Saber / Foter / CC BY

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.

3 responses »

  1. Agreed. Just lost a friend last week….and for one splitsecond, thought, I can’t do this again. But I will, and yet, it truly is one of the hardest things about living cross culturally. Just about the time you meet someone that could be a great friend, they leave.
    Praying for you. pray for me. And to celebrate our first weeks back at school, let’s have coffee.

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