The Blessing of Such Sweet Sorrow

sorrow_statue rgbstock costiq“Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”
Romeo and Juliet (Act 2, Scene 2)

It was the end of the last day of the final week of STEAM Camp. My daughter was sitting on the stage, and she told me, “It’s kinda’ sad that some of these kids we might not see again.”

I told her that she was right, and that I try to not think about it. I gave a half-hearted smile and big hug, and walked away with those thoughts.

Exiting Well?

This is our last week of living in Allendale. Actually, the kids have already spent their last night in Allendale. On Saturday, Joanna and I will pack up and move to Greenville, to begin the next step in our adventure.

Over the past year, as we discussed with friends and leaders about how we “exit well,” I have kept wondering if it’s better to keep thinking about the sadness of the parting, or if we should just ignore it as best we can, until the last day. For better or worse, I mostly chose the latter. I’m not sure that was the best decision. Call me Saturday night, and ask me how it went.

(Or you can ask me in person, if you want to help us either load the truck in Allendale, or unpack in Greenville! Let us know.)

Saying Good-Bye

Boys II Men had it right: “It’s So Hard to Say Good-bye to Yesterday.” Maybe a “See you later” is easier, and (hopefully) more accurate, since we do plan on visiting. But we also need to remember that it will be a mistake to try to avoid the sadness.

In Why You’re Terrible at Goodbyes, Andrea Lucado explains,

“When you run away from goodbyes, you prevent yourself from grieving.”


“I think that’s the best part about grieving: if you chip away at it, it’ll make a crack, allowing joy to seep back in.”

If you’ve ever had to say good-bye for a long period of time, you know what she means.

It Should Hurt

Not only is the pain and grief of moving a normal thing, but it is a good thing. It should hurt when you move in any way.

It should hurt when you change jobs, or move to another city, or move within a city, or leave a church, etc.

And the ultimate example (on earth) of the pain of separation is what is felt during a divorce. In marriage, two people — one man and one woman — become one (Genesis 2:24). In divorce, that singular entity gets ripped apart. That is what Jesus was talking bout in Matthew 19:4-6, as he speaks strongly against divorce.

Have you ever glued together two pieces of construction paper, and then tried to tear them apart? It’s a mess, and both sides are usually damaged.

So, the more intimate the knitting together — the stronger the glue — the greater the pain when people are ripped apart. And if you don’t hurt when you move or leave, it means that you weren’t really all that close with other people. If it does hurt, it means that you had a real connection. And that’s a good thing.

Don’t fear the pain of separation so much that you miss the joy of relationship.

The Blessing

Last month, as I was putting my youngest child (seven-year-old Sender) to bed, we had a sweet little talk. He asked, “Are we going to see F_______ again?”

He was asking about a young man 8 years older than he is, but whom we’ve known since day 1 of the Boys and Girls Club. Sender considered F_______ to be one of his buddies for more than three years.

I told him that I didn’t know (and, now that I think about it, we did see him once, but only briefly), and that led us into a good conversation. I said, “I know it’s sad to move, and that we are going to miss friends. But how is that sadness a good thing?”

Sender replied, “Because that shows that we made some good friends and that people in Allendale care about us.”


As we depart with “such sweet sorrow,” we have to remember that our sadness stems from blessing and joy. Yes, we will be sad to leave behind friendships, but if we never moved to Allendale in the first place, we would have even met so many great people.

And then we wouldn’t have the blessing of missing them.

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**image courtesy of costiq via


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