September 29th, 2023

The Gift of Goodbye: When You Want Them to Go With You, But They Can’t


I love movies and my latest Prime Video view (yes, Prime got me) is, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. It was pretty good and kinda hilarious – the perfect blend in a movie for me. Anyhoo, I want you to watch it, so I won’t spoil it for you. But, I want to reference just one part.

So, Walter was a photo developer for Life Magazine. As they prep for their final print issue, he goes on this “journey” in search of a lost photo (P.S. I didn’t reveal anything just now that you can’t go read on Google).

Mmmkay, along the way, Walter met a couple of guys that helped him on his travels. At one point, his journey leads him to the Himalayas. Once they arrive at the bottom of the mountains, there is a moment that lasts about two minutes where the men point Walter in the right direction.

He motions for them to go first, they give the “no” head shake and motion for him to go alone. They go back and forth a couple of times before Walter finally takes the hint and heads up into the mountains alone.

Receive the Gift of Goodbye with Gratitude

gift of goodbyeAs I watched this silent 2-minute scene, I could hear them telling him, “Look, Walter, we’ve come this far with you, but we can’t climb that mountain with you.”

Maybe you can guess where I’m going with this, yep, straight to the Himalayas lol! But really, you already know that everyone can’t go where you’re going. You hear it all the time. The difference between this season and the past is that you don’t have to guess who isn’t invited. Folks are taking all of the guesswork out of your transition with silent transactions that you’ve gotta take to heart.

Pay close attention. People are letting you know that they don’t belong on this journey with you. No, not literally, but figuratively for sure. Their actions toward you or even their own destinies are screaming that they can’t make the trip.

Do you want to know another tell-tale sign? Look at how they communicate with you or don’t communicate with you. “But we talk all the time.” Yeah, I hear you, but are these talks healthy?

What is your conversation about? You must know that you need healthy, encouraging communication. We need conversations that will hold us accountable. Some people just have an entirely different path laid before them and you have to separate at that fork in the road. Guess what, that’s okay.

So, What’s the Play Call?

It’s not always easy to accept when we can’t continue in our current position, surrounded by our “favorite” people. We must trust where God is taking us and who He trusts to be with us. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare to leave people at the foot of your mountain:

  1. God is always with you. One of the hardest things for me in situations like this is feeling that I am alone without certain people by my side. I have to constantly remember that God will never leave me alone and that He knows what and who is best for me. “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:20
  2. Seek God’s will. Sure, you hear it all the time, but if you really seek God and His will for your life, all these things will become clearer. When He shows you your path, He will show you who belongs on it with you. “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:6 (NLT)
  3. Learn who you are. Yes, your identity is important. I have found that the more I realized my identity in Christ, the more I pay attention to who is around me and what they are adding to my life. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
  4. Know that God has what you need. Once we completely depend on God to supply our every need, we will look to people less and less to fill voids in our lives. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Teammates, please be encouraged and remember that God is not new to this. He has you in mind and He wouldn’t dare let you walk alone on this journey. There will be times when you’ve got to tackle the “Himalayas” without the “couple of guys” who helped you this far. Climb higher anyway.

Alecia M. White
Author, blogger, lover of coffee, and all things Jesus. By profession, Alecia is a teacher and administrator. She recently published her first book "The Thing Is...", a poignant look at suffering and endurance. She is privileged to share her love for Christ through her writing.
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