Why We Suck At “Good-bye”

In the news this week are two different stories that make the same point.  One has to do with Brett Favre and his brilliant comeback on Monday Night Football.  The other has to do with Bobby Bowden and his movement toward the shadows of his career.

Here are two men in the public eye, two professionals in the sporting world, who have lived unquestionably at the top of their game, both at the end of their careers in very different ways.

Bobby Bowden who is waving at his oncoming 80th birthday, is now being rumored to being forced out at the end of the season because the team is not winning and playing up to their usual standard.  This has been true for several years, and Bobby doesn’t seem to get the message.

On the other hand, here is Brett Favre who this Saturday will be 40 – ancient by football terms and yet still playing at the top of his game, as good as any quarterback in the NFL except of course, Peyton Manning.

What’s the point of these two very public people?  They are both facing good-bye.  And they are facing it very differently.

Brett Favre played a great game, but he’s at the end of his career.  Let’s face it.  There aren’t that many great games left.  He’s going to have to leave something that defines who he is and really all he’s known his entire life.  He has to transition. He has to take who he is and what he has become and begin to see himself in a different light, doing something different, making a contribution; not just in a different way, but in a different field.

Bobby Bowden, on the other hand, is facing not only the end of his professional career, but close to the end of his natural life.  Those are two very different transitions, but still very real for people like you and me.

Yesterday, I signed the papers to sell my parents’ home.  It was incredibly sad.  Not because it wasn’t a good thing, it’s just that I’m saying good-bye to not only my mother, but my father, and also my brother again, even though they passed on many years ago.

Here is the point.  You’re going to have to get good at good-bye. We’re really great at hello.  We love the start of things and the potential they bring.  But no matter how good they are, they still end.  You have to be willing to let go and believe that at the end of a good thing is a better thing waiting to be born.  It happens to us all.  We get older.  We finish careers, jobs, sometimes even marriages and relationships.

God has given us the gift of good-bye.  What does that mean?  It means that at the end of every good-bye is a hello.  There is no good-bye without a hello.  God sees to that.  I trust that whatever hello is waiting over the next hill that I can’t see, will be something born of God’s grace and delivered by His generosity.

If you’re holding onto something that’s over, let it go and be willing to embrace the gift of good-bye so that you can receive the gift of hello.

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