Second Goodbyes

When I write, I try not to get too personal. It’s not that I don’t have important things to share; there’s just things I’m afraid of. I hate the thought of people judging my life based off of my personal stories and experiences. I try to keep things vague for that very reason. Tonight, I just can’t be vague. I have to express what is going on because I know I’m not the only one hurting in this world.

. . . . . .

I was in a relationship for about a year and a half with an awesome guy while I was in high school. We were absolutely in love and we planned a future together. He was my best friend and I couldn’t imagine life without him. We fought and we got angry and we made mistakes and did dumb things, but at the end of the day, I knew that things just felt right and God was doing something in our hearts. When we graduated, I left our city for the summer to do missions work and while I was there, I started having doubts about our relationship. I did have doubts before, but things just escalated so much in such a short span of time. Questions like, “what if we’re doing it all wrong? What if God actually doesn’t bless this relationship? What if there’s someone else out there better for me?” just circulated in my head. That future I had planned in my head seemed so hazy. Long story short, I broke up with him.

A year went by and I still didn’t know how to cope with losing my first love. Even though I was the one who ended things and I was the one who pushed him out of my life, I couldn’t get over the fact that my best friend and this guy who I shared life with for almost two years was gone. During that year, I tried to stay away, but we did see each other every now and then when the loneliness and “homesickness” was too much, which just confused me even more. I wondered, if I had a future, what does it look like if not with him? I couldn’t figure it out even though I wanted to. I wanted to move on once and for all, but something in my heart and mind wouldn’t let me.

This past summer, I took a leap of faith and just felt the nudge from God and from my heart to try being with this man again. When we came back together, it was almost as if he never left. I can’t even begin to explain how much God moved this summer in our relationship. I could see that both him and I were growing and we were learning how to truly love- something that I know I certainly didn’t have a grasp of when we were dating previously. This time, when we planned our future, I didn’t have doubts or fears. I felt so confident about where things were going, and he once again became the man of my dreams. We were saving up to get married and we talked with our families about where things were going and we made promises to take care of each other for the rest of our lives. I thanked God each day that He let me have this amazing summer.

But some things just come to an end.

He left me last week- despite my tearful pleas and begging. I couldn’t understand why he’d want to go, why he was no longer happy in our relationship. He assured me that there’s someone out there who’s better for me, and he just didn’t know if he could fit into the future we had planned together. He told me he wants to be alone and move on so we could find people more suited for us. And as he told me this, I just stood there, stunned and dumbfounded. My heart was broken, and this time it was not I who had the doubts and fears about our relationship and our future. It was he.

I still don’t know the full story and I don’t know if I ever will, but I do know that I just lost someone and that sort of pain is something I have never felt, not even the first time we broke up.

I was so blindsided, and surely God could’ve given me some sort of sign that this was not going to turn out the way I thought. If anything, it appeared like God was blessing us and I had no reason to assume that one day all of it would just be gone. I’m not angry. I’m just really confused. I feel lost, like a big chunk of my life is gone and can never be replaced. Now I have to imagine a different future, not the one I thought I would have with the man I have loved for almost three years. This is not past tense, my friends. You’re reading a play-by-play of my life right now, every aching moment of it.

This past week I read a passage in Matthew which spoke to me at the beginning of this summer but I didn’t take very much time to dwell on at first. In Matthew 2, I read about Mary and Joseph’s life shortly after Jesus was born.

…an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod (Matthew 2:13-15a).

When I read this, I thought about how scary it must’ve been for Joseph when he was told he would have to take his family to this new land. It is likely that the angel appeared a couple years after Jesus was born. Mary and Joseph probably had a life where they lived, filled with friends and work and a community they grew accustomed to being in. They had a home in which baby Jesus was being raised, and now this angel is telling Joseph to leave it all behind and just go. That very night, they obeyed.

The passage goes on.

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel (2:19-21)

Once again, we see that Joseph is told to take his family to a new land. After arriving to this new community and probably growing accustomed to their new home and new friends and new job, they were told again that they must leave. And that very night, they obeyed just the same.

When I read this a few months ago, I wrote in the margin of my Bible, “Would you leave it all behind again?” This was a question that was on my mind, and I know I subconsciously was asking myself if I would leave this relationship again if I was asked by God to go.

Even though things were going so well, if the time ever came to say goodbye, would I have the courage to walk away and just trust that God knows what He’s doing? I don’t remember if I ever answered the question at the time. I probably didn’t think I’d ever have to. Now when I read this, I see that I’m finding out my answer whether I wanted to or not.

I have two choices now- to walk away with hope in the Lord or keep begging in hope that the person who broke my heart will take me back. And I see that I’m leaning more towards the first choice. I’m still afraid and I still am in pain, but I just know that if I don’t trust God with my future, I’m going to go through one more year of pain and never receiving that closure I needed the first time. Even though I don’t understand why it must be this way, I am faced with having to say goodbye a second time and I know I just have to do it. It still hurts, but I’m taking it one step at a time.

And I know that it’s okay to miss the past even while trying to heal. I just can’t get stuck in it.

I’m sure Mary and Joseph had concerns about leaving their home both times. Twice they had to say goodbye, and even though there’s not enough detail in Scripture, I bet a part of them was sad about leaving it all behind. But their trust in the Lord was what kept them going, continuing to take those steps forward into the new land they were being called to.

Likewise, I have trust in the Lord and it’s what’s going to keep me going. I was asked to leave my place of comfort twice, much like Joseph, and now I just have to let God direct my path.

So would I leave it all behind again? Yes, I would. I know that there’s a future ahead of me and if it’s in the hands of my loving Father, it must be one worth going after. I know I’ll get through my second goodbye.

. . . . . .

I don’t know how to end this post. I feel like I shared so much of my personal life and I’m almost tempted to erase it all and pretend like nothing ever happened. But this is when the pain is fresh and very much real, and if I waited to publish something like this, it wouldn’t be the same.

So I’m just going to publish this post and say a prayer. If God wants to speak through this, I ask that He does. And if there’s no other reason for me to write this other than that I needed to get this off of my chest and into the open, then I’m okay with that too. I’m learning that fear is okay, and so is hurt, and both are universal feelings. I know I’m not the only one.

So to all of you out there who are scared and hurting and had to say goodbye one too many times to someone or something dear to your heart, I just want to say it’s okay. You’re really not alone.


  1. Sarah Foxx

    After finishing your latest article, my attention was drawn to this one. Once again, I can’t deny your writing talents. It makes me smile when I read this and I am thinking of your upcomming wedding with Grant. Looks like the Lord has been faithful to you, in the midst of pain and suffering. Please, don’t ever stop writing Jessie. We need more real people like you! :-)

    • jessienyland

      Thank you! YOU have made me smile today. God has definitely been so faithful to me and it makes me want to scream from rooftops sometimes. Thank you for reading what I have to say and encouraging me these past few years.

  2. whatdoiknowofholy

    Thank you for being so real and vulnerable through this post. Reading this, I could tell it was raw and genuine, and I was definitely inspired by that. We’ve all been in your shoes at some point, and dealing with heartache sucks, but trust me, it gets better. There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning!

    Keep seeking the Lord in all you do, and let Him heal you while you hold out for Mr. Right. Know that I’ll be praying for you (:

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