By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35 NIV).
When you go through transition, is your self-talk riddled with regret?
Wednesday I put my 26-year-old son, Andy, on a plane bound for Tokyo. Japanese is his total passion. Over the course of the last 10 years, he has successfully immersed himself in the language and culture. He ate, slept, and dreamed in Japanese.
Andy’s linguistic prowess outstrips his peers. He recently interpreted for a week-long event when Japanese Local Government Managers came to Portland State University to study Portland municipal departments. He interpreted for Community-Based Learning and even provided subtitles for a Japanese video on earthquake preparedness. I’m so proud of Andy!
But the night before he left, I created a Great Lake of my own with the tears that flowed. Self-chiding thoughts chattered away in my head.
“Andy loves Japanese, but I don’t speak a word. I haven’t done much to enter my introvert son’s world. I must be selfish! Andy is about to be on his way to the other side of the world. I don’t know when I’ll see him again.”
When I spoke with Jesus, a big pile of “shoulda coulda wouldas” cascaded, tumbling one over another. I shoulda spent more time with Andy. I coulda drawn him out to learn more about his world of Japanese. I woulda taken more pictures of him if I knew I’d miss him this much.
But, sometime in the middle of the night before his flight, I shifted from pouring out my soul to actually listening to Jesus’ response.
He whispered, “How did you show your son love?”
“I’ve prayed for him and lifted up his identity and his future to You for years. I often told him I’m proud of him. I expressed interest in him and his friends, gave him rides and cooked for him. I filled our home with the presence of God in worship music.”
As I wrote out the ways I loved on Andy in my own way, I felt the warmth of Jesus’ smile and his implicit approval.
Could I have spoken Andy’s language of love a little better? Maybe.
But when we are saying good-bye to someone, whether it’s finishing out a job, ending a relationship, experiencing the loss of a loved one, or putting a family member on a plane, God wants us to celebrate what we did have instead of focusing on what we missed. To our “I didn’t love him enough” God replies, “Yes, but you loved him in the way you knew how. And that’s good enough for Me.”
No matter how big or small your good-bye, Jesus puts His arm around your shoulder and says, “We’re transitioning together. I give you permission to grieve your losses. But leave regrets out of this. Enjoy the journey. We’re in this thing together.”
Friend, how do you frame self-talk in tough good-byes?