Philly just won’t be the same without you.
Yesterday, I mulled over the word “goodbye” as we hung out the three of us for the last time. In Chinese, goodbye is 再见 which translates to “meet again.” Same with French; “au revoir”. Korean 안녕 literally means peace. “Farewell” has “well” in it. And “goodbye”…has “good” in it. It’s quite interesting; why does goodbye seem so pleasant in the literal sense? Perhaps because it can be such a difficult thing that whoever came up with these terms decided to soften the blow by inserting a “good” in there.
As I write this post, it is difficult for me to think of the good in you leaving when I remember everything good about you being here. Our worship nights, late night snacking, being goofy at the rail park, praying for each other, cooking and eating dinner, laughing (so much laughing). Doing life on life together. It’s so rare for me to have a sister that I can share my faith with so genuinely and freely as I do with you. You love Jesus so unashamedly that it shakes me and makes me think “wait, why don’t I love Jesus more – she makes it look so fun?!” Every moment I spent with you filled my heart, so where is the good in you leaving?
I always felt that those who were leaving a place had it better than those who were left behind. Those leaving have so much to look forward to – the adventure, the excitement, the anticipation. The ones staying behind have a little person shaped hole to fill – and with what? No one can quite fit the mold like the person who left. I thought about this and sulked about being left behind. It’s going to feel so strange, running downstairs for snacks and knowing I won’t bump into you. It makes me want to cry.
But, then I think about China where you’re headed to. Beijing specifically. The persecution happening. That makes me cry. 1.4 billion people in China. Assuming 10% of the population is Christian, that means there are approximately 1.2 billion people who do not know Jesus in China. 1.2 billion. That makes me weep.
I’m so sad that you’re leaving. There really will be an empty space in my life with you not here. But, when I look past our cozy apartment in Philly and start thinking of Beijing, I think of your new coworkers. Potential new roommates and neighbors. Your ma. Your extended family. Many, many people who don’t know Jesus and haven’t been exposed to that little spark of light you emanate when you talk about Him. Just like we prayed last night, I know there is a reason God is calling you out of Philly and into a new city. He has work for you to do there; glorious and joyful work. Seeds to be sown and fruit to be harvested. When I think about these things, I can understand why goodbye can be good.
It’s easy to not think beyond myself and these walls that I call home. Life can be so sweet and comfortable that I forget to consider that there is a broken world out there. Like Judy was praying last night, God doesn’t call us to stick together comfortably, but He means to scatter us like seeds. You leaving isn’t an easy task. Four and a half years here – you could call it home, too. Beijing has so much smog, the culture is different (and quite shallow at times), the sheer amount of people filling the subways and streets makes me shudder for you. The freedom to worship is limited. Places to meet freely and talk about God are closely monitored. Even texts and news that you’ll want to share with Judy and I, you have to closely screen. Yet, you’re choosing to leave and it’s forcing me to open my eyes and consider where God calls His people. Thank you, as always, for redirecting my attention on God. You’re such a gem. A ray of sunshine that directs light towards her Father. I’m so jealous of Beijing.
再见, I will see you in June. Au revoir, and even if we aren’t ever able to meet up after that, I’ll see you again in heaven. 안녕, there is peace in you going; the peace that guards your heart as you pack and prepare for the journey ahead of you; the peace that rests in Judy and my hearts as we know God is calling you away for a wonderful purpose. Farewell, we wish that you fare well in your transition to Beijing and we’ll pray for your faith to flourish, even in the face of persecution. And goodbye; there is good in the saying of “bye” because God is good and you leaving is good.
For the many people God has prepared for you there – Beijing just won’t be the same with you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20.