I am on the last few chapters of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I have been losing sleep the last three nights due to the intense action at the end of “Mockingjay”. I have fallen in love with the characters – Peeta and his “hijacked” love; Gale and his angry loyalty; Katniss and her flawed altruism and Prim’s purity. I am drawn like a moth to the flame or an addict to the needle. Each night, way past my bedtime, I try to hold off picking it up, but I plunge right back in. Hours later I am devouring the words and the world around me has morphed into the Capitol. I don’t want it finished. — I don’t want to say good bye to Peeta. I will miss Katniss’s valor and spunk. Even as I fly through these last pages of mounting action, I am savoring every last word like Katniss with the loaf of burnt bread outside of Peeta’s bakery.
I don’t think I am alone in this. Not wanting to say good-bye to something, even if the next trilogy, the next job, the next relationship, or next whatever is even better. It might even exceed our wildest dreams and could be “the one;” good-byes are tough. I believe this is part of what keeps people locked in abusive relationships or dead end jobs and missing out on what’s around the corner, or what could be if you just let go…
Yet nothing and no one in this life is permanent.
Emerson Hart wrote a song for a friend who described to him the conflicting emotions he felt while divorcing his wife. The song’s called “I wish the best for you.” Check out a few lines:
“How long can we wait here
To say goodbye?
The words once they’re spoken
Are words that we can’t take
Back to where we were, before
Things got in the way
Life gets so confusing
When you know what you’re losing
Why can’t we see that there’s
More to love than we’ll ever know
Sometimes you’re closer when you’re
I wish the best for you”
This song gets me because of the truth in it.
I know. I’ve walked in those shoes – The ache of saying good-bye, even if you know it is the right thing. You have to let go.
This song reminds me that I am not alone. I also find comfort in The Bible—Even people who spent time with The Almighty had a tough time with this. The followers of Jesus had just said what they thought was their final good-bye to Him as He hung on the cross and took His last breath. Good Friday.
John 19:30 records Jesus: “’It is finished!’ Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.”
But after the Resurrection, when Mary Magdalene sees Him just after she came upon the empty tomb, she cannot let go: “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:17)
The story doesn’t end on Good Friday. This was part of His plan. It had to happen. Jesus knew they would struggle with letting go of Him and even tried to give them a “heads-up”:
“I am leaving you with a gift; peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you; I am going away, but I will come back to you again.”…. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.” (John 14:27)
He knew what He had to do. There was a purpose to the pain He would endure. He said His good-byes but He also assured His followers that He would always be with them (John 14:16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.”)
Because I know Jesus and because I believe, I have found that there is something beyond “good-byes” and beyond this life that is permanent – God’s love. “For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.” (Psalm103:11)
“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
As each of us faces the pain of whatever it is we have to let go of, whether it be a relationship, an addiction, a loved one, a job or a decision, I hope you grasp firmly to the peace that Jesus left us with. I pray that you know that there is a plan and a purpose in the pain and that purpose might just be around the next corner.
As I prepare myself to say good-bye to Gale, Katniss, Prim and Peeta, I remind myself – there is always the movie. And I ready myself with my waterproof mascara for the Good Friday services, I focus my heart on the joy of Easter –Resurrection Sunday.
And remember, even though it is finished, it is not the end.