Fort McCoy News January 23, 2015

Faith: Why is it so hard to say goodbye?

Garrison Chaplain, Fort McCoy

In August last year, a fellow walked up to me and shook my hand at the Exchange, and I thought we had never met before.

"Father, I am very sure you do not know me. When I saw you here, I felt a stir in my spirit to reach out to you to thank you," he said. "The issues you raised, the admonitions you gave in 2008 in Orlando during a Yellow Ribbon reintegration program were edifying and marked a turning point for me. I have reignited my Catholic faith for almost four years now. I have made confessions, but I am still struggling with the same issues in my past, and I cannot seem to say goodbye to them."

Chaplain photo

I smiled and said to him, "Welcome to my world."

He smiled, and I could see his eyes brighten up.

We are in a fallen world and many of us are in the same boat.

His issues may be different from mine, but during the Christmas holidays I sat in darkness in my living room for some reflection. It was past midnight. I could hear the humming sound of my refrigerator, so I did not feel alone, but I felt the memories of the past flood my mind like a tsunami.

I was thinking of my mother and my other siblings who are so far away from me in Perth Western Australia. I was thinking of the beauty of the holiday and the warmth in the home during this time when I was growing up.

I was thinking of my relatives that I had not seen for a long time. I had flash-back to the day I woke my mother one early morning to tell her of my plans to move back overseas. I could still feel the shock that swept across her face. I felt tears roll down my face as I recalled that day.

In my mind's eye, I could see her take me by the hand as we stood facing each other. I could still see her turn my palms skyward. She looked into my eyes and said, "Ike, my son, your dad loved me so much, and death took him away from me, and now you are going away from me, too."

Tears rained down my mother's cheeks as she invoked the spirit of my father through the merits of their unbroken love to go with me.

She then used my hand to wipe her tears, kissed them, and then gave me a smile and said, "Son, it is so hard to say goodbye but I know the God I serve will go with you."

There are countless times in our lives that we must have said so many goodbyes to our Families, friends, neighbors and relatives.

Many goodbyes we say with a smile, but others we say with tears. A lot of times we find it very difficult to say goodbye both to the good and the bad in our lives because we are afraid of change. We feel secure in doing business as usual. We hold on to the things we feel comfortable with, even things that are detrimental to our personal and professional growth.

Helen Keller once said, "When one door closes, another opens. But we often look so long and so regretfully at the closed door that we do not notice which one has opened for us."

In this country we are daily losing the battle in the value system that once made us a great nation and an enviable people.
We have enthroned materialism as a god. We have refused to say goodbye to the things that are holding us down because we carry self-seeking motive in everything we do contrary to the Gospel tenets.

All hope is not lost. We are still a Christian nation. As Christians and people of God and followers of Christ, we are called to a constant saying of goodbyes by way of forgiveness. Forgiving ourselves first and others mostly because we have been forgiven in Christ Jesus.

According to George Herbert, "Those who cannot forgive others break the bridge over which they must pass." We carry pains and hurt daily as part of living.

We all have had sleepless nights when we realize that our dreams are dying because we are unable to emancipate ourselves from the spiritual and moral dungeons we dug for ourselves in the past.

We may not have a proud past, but I know that our rugged trust in Christ Jesus gives us a promising future. In our pain, most of us have refused to say goodbye to the hurt we have had for years now — hurts from betrayals in private and business relationships of all kinds. We allow ourselves to go through the five stages of death and dying as defined by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. We pass through this process because we have refused to let go and say goodbye to those hurts.

This year, let us lay it all in God's hands and offer it up to him. It is only when we have done this that we reposition ourselves to bring a newer, more-realistic and richer self into our next phase in God's will for us.

He calls us to let go, and he will become the driver of our destiny. "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:19). This is His promise for you this year.
The Bible reiterates this promise in Psalm 103: 11-13, "For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him."

It may be hard for you to say goodbye to your past deeds and hurts, but God is not in judgment over you anymore because He has already declared you clean. He wants you to give Him a chance and trust in His providence to prove it. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11).

Will you continue to live in past pains or will you live in the present promise?

The ball is in your court.