As any good capitalist will note, there is a price for everything. It is most often the emotional or relational price that we forget about, that are the ones that cost the most. You pay the price in giving up the emotion or by giving away the relationship.
Saying goodbye feels like giving up. Goodbye feels so final, like it is not even possible to see you again. It feels like all the memories held in the object departing will be lost for good. It feels like all possible outcomes I ever imagined and dreamed of were teases, and I should not allow myself to visit them because the knowledge that they cannot be is too painful.
We hear that sometimes relationships get to a point where goodbye is necessary because there is too much hatred and pain and it is better to just let it all go. However, reconciliation is not about getting rid of the source of conflict (read avoiding the pain and heartache), but about restoring the lost dignity, humanity and even restoring the relationship.
Paying the price of a goodbye is costly in merely coming to that decision. It is even more costly once decided upon, because sometimes goodbye doesn’t last. After days, weeks, months, years of agonizing over the decision to say goodbye – analyzing what the leaving really means – to drag your heart through the process of saying goodbye only for the object of your goodbye to show up again makes the payment ineffective. Why spend all the heartache on a goodbye if it doesn’t purchase a complete severance?
When the goodbye doesn’t last, or may not be possible, we will save ourselves great burdens of hatred and anger by allowing the other to not be the symbol of our salvation. Lindsey and Steve fell in love so young, and dropped hard out of love. But there was too much history and too much shared interest to allow a complete break. For years, they projected all their hurts and heartaches onto the other. Goodbye was a tall order, neither one was okay with the other finding new relationships. But so was hanging around; speaking to one another was awkward, and hanging out with mutual friends made everyone feel uncomfortable. This baggage was heavy, but the nature of their professional interaction made it impossible to put this baggage down. They had to say goodbye, but not to each other.
The price of forgiveness is the crushed hopes and dreams and desire for revenge or harm to the other. The price is the ability to say goodbye to the rights you feel the other has taken from you. Saying goodbye to the
need desire to inflict great harm on the one who hurt you means killing the hope that they would be the one to offer wholeness and a satisfying relationship. This increases the cost of goodbye, and who wants to pay that price? Innate to human nature is a desire for satisfaction and a feeling of wholeness found in being in relationship with one another. When this desire is crushed by a broken relationship our gut reaction is to wish great harm upon the other. The only way to forgive though, is to say goodbye to the desire to hurt the other back.
“Sometimes solutions aren’t so simple. Sometimes goodbye is the only way. Sometimes beginnings aren’t so simple. Sometimes goodbye is the only way.” Linkin’ Park, “Shadow of the Day”
Yes, sometimes goodbye is the only way. Sometimes, however, goodbye is required of something other than the person/relationship/place. Sometimes you must say goodbye to your dreams, to your pride and entitlement and revenge. Sometimes you must say goodbye to yourself.