As missionaries we learn to live with the constant flow of people coming and leaving our day-to-day lives. Before you meet someone you've seen their paperwork and you know that you have ten days or two weeks to get to know them, their hopes and dreams, and be a part of their story or you meet locals and know that you have them a little longer but when it comes time to leave you'll have to say goodbye to them. After so long the goodbyes are no longer long, dramatic, and tear-filled but short and sweet see ya laters. We learn to deal with goodbyes in our own way.. Whether it's working on different friendships, journaling, keeping busy, whatever it is everyone deals with it in their own way. Sometimes you meet people and you fall in love with them.. not in the typical American dating way but in the way that you can already feel the flip in your stomach and the stab in your heart that the goodbye will bring before you even finish your first conversation. When you meet people and create a relationship with them you have to know that you will be missing them after you say goodbye. The pain of missing people is real. I know this because I've felt it over and over again in my own life.
People are precious and they are unique. Every individual is going to leave a mark on our lives and we must allow room for that. The ability to love means openness to loss; we must embrace it even though we don't like it. We have to. We have to move forward and sometimes that means leaving people behind, and sometimes we're the ones left. But that's okay. Because we learn that we will run into people in random places that we thought we'd never see again and some people we were convinced we would be with at least once more we will never see. But that's okay too. You learn to live fully in every moment you have with that person because goodbyes teach you to love people when and where you have them. I don't think this only applies to mission life but I know you definitely notice it more.
We are called to know each other's pain and help each other walk through it. We want to help each other to not numb out the pain of goodbyes and become calloused but to remain soft and radiating love like we are called to. Our job is to help each other feel what it means to love someone even when it hurts and what it feels like to let someone go. I think when you accept that anyone can leave this world at any time it helps knock down all the walls and boundaries and you resolve not to toughen your heart towards people. Then you can love them with all you've got because we know soon we'll all be gone anyway. We can appreciate people while we have them because even though our presence is temporary we know the investment of ourselves in relationships is ultimately eternal.