Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Long Goodbye

Every time I go somewhere these days in Singapore I think, "This is probably the last time I'll come here." Except when I go to Mustafa, because I know that I'll always find one more reason to go there (Mustafa, why can't I quit you?). It's causing me to be in perpetual state of mild sadness whenever I go out, a sense of wanting to capture the feeling of each place I leave.

I know a lot of people in this kind of situation just ignore how they feel, because that constant emotional awareness can be overwhelming and draining. I have seen women go through the leaving process here who essentially shut down their hearts. The pain of these goodbyes is just too much, maybe they've done it too many times, so they choose to protect their hearts rather than engage.

The problem with that strategy is that the extent to which you shut yourself off to pain is the same extent to which you limit your ability to experience joy and life. In the movie Shadowlands, C.S. Lewis, as he contemplates the real prospect of losing his wife Joy to cancer, says, "Why do we love when it causes so much pain?" and Joy responds, "Because the pain then is part of the joy now."

In a way Singapore has been one long goodbye. We have seen so many people enter our lives and leave, and had so many amazing experiences in this country and others nearby that we will not have again after leaving. The potential for heartbreak is great, but avoiding the heartbreak would diminish the capacity for joy, and I can happily say that we've truly enjoyed our time here. I'm glad that it's hard to leave people and places here, because we've loved them and they've been a blessing for us. I wouldn't have it any other way.


Four Buttons said...

very well put Gina. I avoided the shut down thing and enjoyed every last thing that I did and savored every last bite of my fav foods. I remember my last trip to cold storage thinking that I was leaving a truly great grocery store...i know you disagree, Mustafa lover :) Anyway, I'm glad you are going into this with such optimism and truly understand what a blessing it all was there. We miss you guys and can't wait to hear about China!! Lots of love for you and the fam, we are praying constantly for you :)

noble said...

I love reading your blog. As I read I couldn't help but think of our time leaving the Lion City last year. You are so right in your words about joy and sorrow. I am so glad that I was able to have heartache as the first couple years in Singapore I was ready to packup. The relationships became deeper and by the end I was talking about Singapore as my home. I miss the relationships so much but I am so thankful for God's rich blessings.
Praying for all of the Butz family.

Ana Degenaar said...

Beautiful Post, I admire your optimism, I'm sorry to say to have to say that I don't take things that good, when the time for moving and leaving friends and Ministry behind, too bad, because at the end I really come to realize God had bigger and specific plans for us. Love your blog, By the way, we have a new section over at Everyday M.moms, calledMissionary Moms' Nests! Come Join it!