The Pain of Goodbyes

Originally published Tuesday, 15 October 2013.


I have a love/hate relationship with airports.


Okay, mostly hate.  Airports are actually capable of causing my stomach to churn, heave and threaten to wretch, just by the very sight of them.


It’s not that I get airsick.


I don’t.


Well, except for that one time when I reacted horribly to an Ambien on the way to India, but that’s a different story.


No, my stomach doesn’t literally betray me due to motion sickness.


It’s a heartsick thing.


There have been far too many goodbyes.


Sure, there have been giddy days of counting hours and minutes and practically climbing on strangers’ backs in the arrivals terminal to get that first glimpse through the automatic sliding doors leading to the baggage claim conveyor belts.


But in my personal travel experience, even when I’m bubbling over with excitement to go … someone always has to be left behind.


Too many times, I left my family in the States to go back to my husband and kids in South Africa, not knowing if I would ever see my parents or my sisters again.


Those are gut-wrenching moments.


Moments when the very ventricles of my beating heart engaged in a vicious tug-of-war, with two sides of the Atlantic pulling with all their might, and neither side willing to let go.


Come to think of it, I’ve lived the better part of a decade in that state of taut-rope tension.


The Apostle Paul felt it, too, in a far more spiritual sense.  In Philippians 1:23-24, he wrote, “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”


I don’t want to be torn when it’s time to go home.



When the intercom announces the final boarding call to that ultimate flight, that passage between this life and the next, I pray that the good-byes will pale in comparison to the destination that awaits.


I want to run forward down the corridor with giddy schoolgirl anticipation, finally able to meet the One waiting at the arrivals gate in glory.


It won’t be wrong for me to stand in the departures terminal with tears streaming down my face for all that I have to leave behind.  God gives us relationships and possessions here on earth for our enjoyment.


But they are temporary.


If I’m standing with feet firmly planted on the tacky airport pseudo-carpet, lamenting over the fact that I can’t take any luggage with me aboard the aircraft … well, then I have a problem.


On that day, may the tug-of-war strands be cut, may the rope of tension fall slack, and may my utmost joy, delight and hope be found in Him alone.


This post is part of the series, Defining Home in 31 Days.  Click here for a full index of posts.


Photo credits: Andrei Dimofte and David Boyle