This post has been a long time coming. All week, I’ve been trying to write it … just trying to write something, anything actually. I didn’t have the emotional energy to do it, much less the time to sit down and focus on turning mixed-up emotions into coherent words.

I suppose this was because all week I was busy saying goodbye. Goodbye to my three children who headed out to Germany for a six week adventure with their dad. Goodbye to my neighbor who passed away suddenly. Goodbye to the sounds and scenes I’ve come to know and love … the chaotic house will now be quieter without three of my beloved noise-makers; the neighborhood will seem a little lonelier without the familiar sight of my neighbor sitting under his driveway in the afternoons.

Goodbyes have never been easy for me. I’m much more of a hello sort of person.

I’d be willing to bet if you were sitting here with me and we were discussing my thoughts over a cup of coffee, this would be the point at which my husband Jon would interject his opinion that this tendency of mine is due to the fact I am an extrovert.

I have never been convinced I am a truly committed extrovert at heart. Big groups, loud parties, introducing myself to complete strangers. These are not things I do well.

Yet, I don’t do alone well either. I like having people around me all the time, especially people I love. Small gatherings, happy dinners for a couple of friends, just hanging out with a special friend or two. These calmer sort of situations leave me feeling energized about life. I dread to see them come to an end.

The more I think about it, the more I suppose Jon has a point. Introverts never really mind goodbyes because at last they are alone, but for an extroverted person goodbyes can be quite painful as the goodbye signals letting go. Maybe, just maybe, my husband has pegged me correctly after all, for I am not a goodbye sort of girl at heart. I don’t even like saying goodbye to my family as I head out to go grocery shopping for an hour!

Jon, on the other hand, has always billed himself as an introvert. When he says this, I typically roll my eyes. You see, Jon loves a big party. He likes to be on stage, and does not have a problem with striking up a conversation with a complete stranger. But as he also is quick to point out, after a couple of hours, Jon is ready for the party to be over so he can come home and chill out.

One day this past week, Jon and I were talking about our neighbor’s death. I mentioned that already I missed seeing Mr. Prejean sitting outside. Many afternoons, I would walk over to speak with him as I went to check our mailbox.  Jon said, “I am sad he passed away, and I’m sure there will be moments I actually miss him. But I doubt I ever will think about it much. I mostly try to avoid our neighbors. Anything more than a quick hello means I have to actually engage for a moment.  The truth is I really would just rather be left alone.”

This was Jon talking. Jon, the introvert, who prefers goodbyes and alone time, because saying hello means letting someone into his little world and opening up himself to another person.

In that moment, I suddenly saw so clearly. Jon and I were two sides of the same coin. I didn’t mind letting people into my life, but I was unwilling to let them go.  On the other hand, Jon had a harder time with letting new people gain access to him, unwilling to open himself up to another person. One of us needing to learn the language of goodbye; the other to speak the language of hello.

Hello is the opportunity to reach out to someone else. Goodbye is the time to look inward and reflect. And in this world, we need to be able to do both. God uses each one for His purposes. One to spread His love to a world in need of a Savior. One to give His peace and love to our own souls.

Hellos and goodbyes are both a part of this life. Though I have a preference, one is not better than the other. Saying goodbye might not be something I enjoy, but I am learning there is a time for speaking the language of letting go.

To everything there is a season … ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

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Hello or goodbye? Which one do you prefer?

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16 thoughts on “Becoming a Goodbye Girl

    1. I was able to Skype with them for the first time this morning. I am indeed grateful for such a wonderful communication tool … one that only a short time ago wouldn’t have been possible.

      1. I know it’s so cool. We face time with our son and wife and 2 year old daughter every few days. Her birthday was Wed, and we watched her open her packages and had fun. It’s great. Have an easy few weeks and enjoy!!!

  1. So glad you came and said “Hello” to us. I can still see Julia falling down in the yard when we pulled out of the driveway. I know for our families it sill be “Until we meet again…” Love ya!

  2. Wow, what a deep post today! While on the surface I appear to be a “Hello” extrovert, I tend to keep people at arm’s length…it takes a long time for me to really and truly let people in, and when this happens, it is hard to let them go. But like you said, there are times when saying goodbye is necessary…

    1. I’m surprised anyone finds this post deep! I wrote it at 3 am … unable to sleep, much on my mind. As happens so often, I sat down to write and found my thoughts taking me in a direction I had no anticipation they might go. It’s a wonder anyone can make heads or tails of it! But, yes, goodbyes and hellos are both important to learn how to communicate. Learning to be comfortable alone (with only God’s presence) is just as necessary as is learning to be among others and engaged in community for God did not create man to be solitary.

  3. At this age or stage in my life I truly am a combination… I used to consider myself an introvert and my husband a real extrovert.. but over the years we’ve melded … and now I both like to engage or ‘hello’ but also like my ‘alone’ time…. so I think I have the both of best worlds..so to speak…. Diane

    1. You know, Diane, I’ve often said that I tend to sit on the fence in so many areas of personality traits. For example, I am not a night owl or a early bird, neither a strong extrovert nor a typical introvert, not fastidiously neat yet not a complete slob. Sometimes it’s good to find oneself standing in a place where you can enjoy the best of both sides. 🙂

  4. Great post! I completely relate to both you and your husband. I like to be around people, but they have to be people I want to be around. haha! I like your conclusion– that we need to be open to reaching out to others, but also need to be able to look into ourselves as opportunities for reflection and learning present themselves.

    1. Exactly, Sara. 🙂 If never have time to just be alone with God, we miss out on a big blessing … as well as if we aren’t willing to give of ourselves into relationships. Both have a purpose.

  5. I agree with johnmarkmiller, this is a deep, thought-provoking post.

    First of all, the comment about you and Jon being opposite sides of the same coin reminds me of the quote, “If two people just alike get married, one of you is unnecessary.” It’s good to have somebody to balance you out.

    As far as whether I’m a hello or goodbye girl, I’m not sure. I remember as a child feeling sad and lonely when company left because the house was so empty and quiet. But now I find peace in solitude.

    I’ve said hello to people and situations that were blessings, bringing with them great opportunities, adventure and peace. Other times I’ve said hello to disappointment, heartache and chaos.

    I’ve had to say goodbye too soon. Many times I didn’t get to say goodbye at all. I’m not sure which is worse. There have been other times when goodbye couldn’t come soon enough.

    I don’t always know who or what will enter or exit my life at any given time. I think the best I can do is trust God’s plan for my life, remember that he can work all things for my good and His timing is perfect.

    1. What a beautiful comment, Misty! So glad God has allowed our families to say “Hello” to each other for more than just a brief time. I’m blessed by our friendship. 🙂

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