To this day, even after growing up as a Third Culture Kid my whole life, I'm still learning how to say "good" goodbyes. My parents and Josiah Venture staff were incredible at modeling that growing up, but it still doesn't mean it's easy. I'm learning that there are ways to make goodbyes more bearable though.
When goodbyes are affirmed and meaningful, when there is space for both celebration of the joys and grief over the loss, then it at least feels more possible to move forward and think of the next destination.
I just finished up a COMPASS program here at MTI, which is the month long training program for families moving overseas. I had to leave a day early to fly to Chicago for a wedding this weekend, so I had to say my goodbyes with the kids on Thursday.
We made scrapbook memory pages, talked about what we learned in the past month, shared favorite playground/field trip/lesson stories, ate Starbursts together, and the kids were so thoughtful and gave me cards they had made earlier in the day. We did a big group hug, and then one by one they were picked up by their parents at the end of the day, and some hung back for as long as they could. We chatted until it was really time to go and gave final hugs before saying our last goodbye.
I share this little snippet of our goodbyes to give you hope. I'm actually learning how to say "good" (if there is such a thing) goodbyes in a way that brings closure, though the sting will always be there. It's important to take the time to name the goodbye and fully enter into it, whether I'm the one leaving or staying. This time I'm staying and they'll be moving overseas with their families in the coming months, but the roles switch back and forth in different stages of life.
If you're going to be saying goodbyes soon - with kids, at work, with friends or family, one little helpful acronym that MTI uses is C.A.R. - closure, affirmation, reconciliation. The other thing I like to think towards that MTI taught me is using the "Five Love Languages" in saying goodbyes. Being able to love others well throughout goodbyes is one of the best gifts to receive and to give. So when saying goodbyes, think of a way you can 1. serve someone, 2. be sure to affirm them with words, 3. find a meaningful gift for them to take along as they move forward, 4. give them hugs or pray over them in a huddle, 5. and carve out time to spend with them. Those are just a few ideas to get you started. It's painful, but so so worth it.
I'll miss this group of kids! Would you pray for them right now as they continue in their journeys serving the Lord with their families and in transition?