Monday, October 19, 2009

The Gift of Goodbye

At church the other day, the pastor mentioned something he called, The Gift of Goodbye. Basically, some people do you a favor by leaving. I had never thought about it that way but it’s true.

Some people, and some situations, do us a favor by saying goodbye. It might be painful at first but later, after time has begun its healing, we see that the goodbye really was a gift. When we see how things turned out, we can wipe our brow and feel satisfied that we dodged a bullet.

However, sometimes I think that we need to initiate the goodbye. Even if it’s a gift we give ourselves, it’s still a gift. I once had a friend who dragged me into a lot of negative situations. And when I looked at our relationship, I realized that it was overwhelmingly more negative than positive. Yet, I remained her friend, and a close friend at that, out of loyalty and because it seemed like “the right thing to do.”

Finally, after one more serious incident, I’d had enough. I initiated the goodbye. It felt good. One day, months later, my father asked me how this friend was doing. I told him I didn’t know and that I had ended the relationship.

He told me, in so many words, that I was wrong for doing what I did. I explained however, that I didn’t end our friendship out of anger or spite and that I didn’t hold on to any feelings of bitterness or anger. Simply put, we were different people with different priorities and different ways of communicating and handling problems. I wished her nothing but the best but the best thing for me was to initiate the goodbye.

Knowing when to let go and mustering up the strength to do it is a critical skill that we all need to develop. It's not about giving up easily or throwing in the towel. It is about knowing when enough is enough. It is about recognizing when it's difficult or detrimental for something to continue.

It takes knowing yourself. It takes courage. It takes maturity.

The gift of goodbye is one of the best gifts we can receive and sometimes give.

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