Countdown to Goodbye

countdown to goodbye

Over eight years ago a young family packed their things, shipped them off, and flew to a small island in the south Caribbean. This sweet couple now pastor a growing church of international students, expats, and locals. Their two small children have grown up eating more mangos than strawberries, and seeing more monkeys than squirrels. They have built a beautiful life here.

As they were putting down roots, many around them continued to come and go. They spent all these years saying goodbye; to family as they visit and leave, to friends who graduated or were relocated. Others came to serve alongside them, but it was only this family who remained a constant in the ministry. They are the ones who have always stayed.

Six years ago was the first time we were connected with them. We had friends who attended their church and this connection was an answer to our prayers! God made it abundantly clear that this island, this ministry, and serving with this family was a part of our calling. 

Three years later, our family made the move to this “rock” called St Kitts. I don’t know what we would have done without these friends walking us through every step of the process. Our kids are the same age as their kids. We serve together, we spend time together, we reminisce about Chick-fil-a and Target together. We don’t need to explain ourselves when we are with them. They already know, they already understand. We do life with them. They are our friends, and they are part of our family now.

In one month, they will be the ones who are leaving. Which means we will be the ones saying goodbye and staying behind. Last year when they told us, my heart immediately began to ache. I was happy for them. After all, God was calling them home! There is no better situation I can imagine but to move back because the Lord who called us to “here” now calls us to “there”. They have given so much and served so faithfully, and their story will end here well. As glad as I am for them, the ache of goodbye is still there.

It’s never far from my mind in these last few weeks. We are buying their car, but that means they won’t be here to drive it. They are passing on school uniforms, but that means our kids will no longer be in class together. She gave me some beautiful clothes, but it’s because she is leaving them behind. The paradox of this season is so real, and so intense. 

Jesus understands goodbye. 

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end,” (John 13:1 NIV).

He had spent years with these men. They lived together, traveled together, served together. If any friends have ever really understood each other, it would be this group. They never seemed to need to explain themselves. Jesus leaving was going to be a huge loss, not just because of the pain of His death, but because of the friendship and intimacy that would never be the same this side of Heaven.

We rejoice with our friends knowing they are obeying the Father. They are continuing to follow Him as He leads their family, and that will always be what’s best. I can take comfort in knowing that though goodbye is not easy, Christ really knows what I am feeling. He is in the midst of their leaving, and He is in the midst of us staying. I can trust that His plan is good and right. 

As the days wrap up, and their departure comes close, I will choose to love them to the end. I will choose to not leave things unsaid. I will rejoice with them, and I will cry with them. We will keep walking alongside of them and serving those we are called to love together. 

The time left will soon be minutes and seconds. When we finally must say goodbye – at the airport, in the middle of luggage, security officers, and travelers – I will praise God that goodbye is not forever. Though months or years may separate our gatherings, our relationship with Jesus means we will get to spend eternity together someday! There will be no more counting down, and no more goodbyes. 

Have you been the one leaving, or the one who stays? What do you do to say goodbye well?

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

18 Comments

  1. Danielle Wheeler June 11, 2019

    Katelyn, this is achingly beautiful. What a gift you have in this friendship. You have honored it with your words here. Praying for the ache in your heart. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    1. Katelyn Comer June 11, 2019

      Thank you so much Danielle! We are 2 1/2 weeks away now and it’s hard, but God is so good!

  2. Stephanie Plamann June 11, 2019

    Beautifully written. Friends are friends forever, if the Lord’s the Lord of them.

  3. Katelyn Comer June 11, 2019

    Thank you Stephanie, and that’s so true!!

  4. Nana June 11, 2019

    Oh my. I think I’m going to cry. These are my grandchildren whom I love with all my heart.
    I will look forward to having them home.
    Thank you Comers for answering Gods call to St. Kitts. God bless younana

    1. Katelyn Comer June 11, 2019

      I know that they are so loved and so ready to be home with their family. Thank you for loaning then to St Kitts for so long!

  5. Mabel halcomb June 11, 2019

    So well said! I understand the goodbyes but I also know God’s comfort in those times.

    1. Katelyn Comer June 11, 2019

      That’s so true ♥️♥️

  6. Libby Hinkle June 11, 2019

    Agh! I’m crying. How beautifully worded, Kaitlyn! I just loved this. In the past year we too said goodbye to deep friendships and are thankful they are forever. Keep writing and helping others through your own experiences. ❤️

    1. Katelyn Comer June 11, 2019

      Thank you Libby!! I know you understand so well. And thank you for the encouragement! Writing is such a fun way to express what God is teaching me.

  7. Laura June 12, 2019

    My parents came to visit us for the first time on the field and we just said goodbye to them yesterday. I am reminded again that goodbyes are a whole lot harder when you’re the one staying. Now I have to reaffirm my commitment to God, to this place, to these people, to this life. I don’t want to go back to the hard, to the struggle, but that’s what God has for me right now. Thank you for reminding me that goodbye is not forever.

    1. Katelyn Comer June 12, 2019

      I’m praying for you this morning as I read this! Some of the hardest goodbyes for us have been at the airport watching family head back home. Praying that you have comfort and encouragement and peace, and that you can be so full of joy with where you are!

  8. Marlene Jones June 12, 2019

    And so The Kingdom grows, as those who are called to plant and minister, faithfully follow God’s leading. Friendships made along the way are never forgotten, but remembered as God’s precious gifts. May God continue to bless you all as you serve where He has placed you.

    1. Katelyn Comer June 12, 2019

      Thank you so much!

  9. Tonja Kendrick June 12, 2019

    Very well put , our earthly goidbyes are truly hard . But thank you, Lord for never have to say goodbye in heaven. Thank you for these precious words

    1. Katelyn Comer June 12, 2019

      Thank you friend!

  10. Monica F June 12, 2019

    Beautiful post- you put into words what many of us have gone through, on both sides of staying and going. Although your friends will no longer be physically be present, their story will indeed carry on- the impact of their work, and service to the Lord and community there. I recently returned to ‘our home overseas’ for a visit, and the Lord allowed me to see that our family’s story, along with those who have gone before, and come after, is being told and shared in ways I couldn’t have imagined. It made this last goodbye less difficult! Goodbyes are hard, but we have hope for the day there are no more goodbyes! Thank you for sharing.

    1. Katelyn Comer June 12, 2019

      Thank you for sharing that! I’ll be excited for when they come to visit someday and see all God is still doing because of their faithfulness

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