My first solo ever was in 8th grade. Our chorus sang It’s So Hard to Say Good-Bye to Yesterday a cappella, and I got to sing the second verse. For those of you youngsters who weren’t even born yet when this song came out, it’s by Boyz II Men. Be prepared for awesome early ’90s garb.
It was my first taste of a lifelong (so far) love affair for me in two ways: singing lead vocals, and a cappella music. It was also my first real brush with the ugliness of racism, but that’s neither here nor there. Or maybe just another blog post for another day.
But I title this post not in honor of my first solo, but because it truly is hard to say good-bye to people and work that I have loved for the last seven years. I’m moving on from my work with college students and from Cru. For some silly reason, I thought that because I’m ready to move on, it wouldn’t be hard to do so. I was wrong.
I find that, like many things in life, closing a chapter of life means you have to grieve the closing, even as you look forward to the next chapter. The music video implies that this song is about death. In some ways, life is full of small deaths.
Not to be depressing or anything, but I think that if we don’t learn to grieve, we won’t learn to live. The way things work on this earth seems to be that life comes out of death. As long as we are afraid of death, we cannot find life.
The greatest example, of course, is Jesus’ death and resurrection, by which we are set free from death in order that we can really live. The Bible says that “we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ – if indeed we share in Christ’s sufferings, in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8, of course!).
So often, especially in America, we think that our suffering isn’t worth anything. We compare it to the Christians around the world who are tortured or killed because of their love for Jesus, and we think we can never attain that kind of love.
And yet, the fact is that we are each called to times of death in order to move further into the life God has for us. And the smaller deaths are hard for us, and the smaller deaths prepare us for the bigger deaths. In the smaller deaths, we slowly find that God is trustworthy, that life does lie on the other side of death, that weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning. We are building character, even as we learn God’s character.
So. It’s hard to say good-bye as this chapter of life closes. I will miss my students terribly. I’ll miss the family of Cru. I’ll miss how often I’ve been able to be a part of lives being changed. I’ll miss the frequent rewards of this type of work. But I will choose to trust that beyond this death, Life awaits.