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I’ve been to a lot of places. With that, obviously my heart has been to a lot of places. 


Being a missionary kid, I’ve said a lot of goodbyes. Recently, after leaving Costa Rica, I’ve reflected a lot on goodbyes and how they’ve affected how I put down roots in a place.

In each place I invested in, in each place I left, I thought that I was leaving a piece of my heart there. Because that was a place I loved, whether it was the physical place people or the people that called it home. 

I think that because of this view, in each place I moved to, I gave less and less of myself away. Logically, this seems like the right thing to do because I believed there was only so much of myself I could give away. 

I didn’t want to give away too much of my heart because I was afraid that after years of inevitable, painful, and heart-wrenching goodbyes, I would be left with nothing. 

I didn’t realize I had such a fragmented view of transitions and goodbyes until a recent conversation with some of my squad-mates. One of my friends compared the leaving of a person or place we love to the stretching of our hearts from one place to the next.

This perspective actually brought a lot of healing and restoration to my fragmented view of goodbyes and the way I invest in people and places. Saying goodbye to Costa Rica made me realize that because of how many goodbyes I’ve had to say in my life, I’ve numbed myself to them. The prospect and expectation of saying goodbye has affected the way I choose to love others intentionally and invest in them. 

We plant roots down in the places and people we hold close to our hearts, and when we leave, we are able to keep loving those places and people from afar. We don’t lose the parts of ourselves we invest there. We get to leave each place still whole, still intact. It still hurts, yes, because our hearts are being stretched.

How beautiful is this: we get to take all that we have learned and become in one place on with us to the next. It’s never meant to just be a “clean break”. Life is a continual transition from each bittersweet goodbye to each beautiful beginning.

Now, when I look back on all the places I’ve been, I have begun to realize that my life really has been one long stretch. My heart has been stretched from Tajikistan, to Turkey, to California, to Georgia, to Costa Rica, and to everywhere and everyone in between. 

Before leaving Costa, I prayed that I would be so present that leaving would hurt; that I would feel the pain of saying goodbye. 

I’ve definitely felt that pain, but it’s not because I’ve left a part of myself in Costa Rica. My heart has been stretched.

Looking back, I know there were times where I held back from people because I was afraid of giving too much away. I wish I had given even more of myself.

I’m reminded that and I take comfort in the fact that I am in the Father and He is in me. Because of this, I am able to give out of an overflow, out of His limitless reservoir of love. I can always give more, I can always invest more, because He is endless.

Wow, what a blessing. What an honor to be stretched and be able to invest our hearts in a place out of the depth of the Fathers love. What a privilege to be able to take all that we have become in a place with us to the next. 

I’ve already said goodbye to Costa Rica, and it hurt. That’s a huge answer to prayer. Thanks God. 

I’m excited to be stretched:

Dominican Republic, I’m here and I already love you. I can’t wait to invest in you and your people. I can’t wait to learn from you and your people.



An Update:

Me and my squad arrived in the DR a week ago today! This past week we had the privilege of working alongside two short term teams from the United States. Already, life here looks a lot different than Costa Rica. It’s an adjustment, but I am so expectant for what this next two months holds.

Thanks for keeping up with my journey! Your prayers for my squad and I would be so appreciated. Pray for peace and safety, as well as the ability to adjust well to life and ministry here!


Thankful for you!



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5 responses to “The Reality of Goodbyes”

  1. Lots to reflect on here Emma… all the transitions and goodbyes, as difficult as they were, can serve to enlarge my hearts capacity rather than limit me…

  2. Dear Emma:
    You are so right on.
    God uses every move we make to make the next one a good one.
    I’m praying that the next two months you will be used in a grand way.
    Oceans of love,
    Nana xoxox

  3. Beautiful insights, Emma! Love you and praying God will use you mightily in the DR.
    Pastor Sue

  4. What a great way to look at this: “my heart is stretched”! I love it! May God continue to lead and to BLESS you!