Let's Get Psyched! For Every Goodbye There is a Hello
by Randy Kiel | June 20, 2018
Back during the “big hair decade” of rock n’ roll, I attempted to complete graduate school three times.
My friend and personal mentor in graduate school, Father Joe, would always say to me, “Randy, you will never discover the ocean if you are afraid to leave the shore.” This was his encouragement for me to come back to school and finish the program so that I could follow the vocation he saw within me, a therapist. I was afraid of the career change that was before me. My fear would say, “What if I am no good?”
Over time, I appreciated the wisdom that Father Joe then went on to teach me:
For every goodbye, there is a hello.
With every finish, there is something to be welcomed.
For every big or little thing that we let go of, there is a new connection to make.
Today, I face yet another change that fulfills a deep calling from God upon my soul. I have said, “YES” to God’s call to become a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church.
If my fear could speak now it might say to God, “But Father, what if I fall?” He would say to me, “Oh my child, did you forget that I’ve given you the wings to fly? Just let go and hold on tight to nothing at all. That is when I will take flight with you.”
Now, I would like to tell you of another fear of mine, one perhaps that you have in common with me.
My fear is of saying goodbye.
Does that sound familiar?
I am finishing four years of formation for this vocational call of service. During these years, my wife and I have attended seminary and classes every other weekend with a large group of fellow soon-to-be deacons and their spouses.
Together, we have experienced a deep season of love, fraternity, affection, and bonding. The need to say goodbye will come soon and I expect we all will become a little weak-kneed as this season of comfort and familiarity comes to an end.
“Goodbye” can be quite a complex expression to feel and impart. Even the words around goodbye do not come easily. They elicit sadness, excitement and fear. I have now landed in the “I don’t know” zone that can only be consoled with a response of “Thy will be done.”
Leaving people is difficult because that word “goodbye” is not ever without some level of pain or grief. It is often an avoided experience. Whether in a pleasant farewell or a grievous death, we feel it deeply. It is not a shallow experience.
Goodbye elicits a vulnerability that only the human bond can create. Bonding itself is evidence of God. “Created in his image” is the signature of his bond with us; therefore our bond with one another is because God is love. It is through his love that we have our deepest bonds.
As Catholics, a special gift is given to us through the sacrament of reconciliation, the gift of penance. The root word for penance in Latin means pain. We pray in The Act of Contrition that we are committing to do penance; face the pain necessary in life in order to experience something new. This is repentance. This is conversion. Many goodbyes are met with mixed emotions: children graduate, parish priests move, careers end, and we transition from middle-aged adults to older adults.
Here are a few tips to help us with difficult goodbyes. First, be sure to really say goodbye. Don’t rob yourself and others by holding it in with stoic silence. Second, if you have mixed emotions remember that this is normal. Take time to reflect on the different aspects of your feelings and allow them to teach you new insights. Third, allow yourself time for the emotions to settle. Remember, no emotion lasts forever.
“But Randy, what about love?” you ask. Love is not an emotion. Love is God and He is eternal. Love never ends! Can I hear an “AMEN”?