Saying goodbye. {Lessons from the trail}

by Kari on July 5, 2012


I remember saying goodbye to Aunt Lois for the last time. I remember kissing her on the cheek and taking a deep breath, wanting to inhale her scent one last time and remember it forever. I remember climbing in our car, then watching her on the front porch, standing in her purple robe, like royalty, waving goodbye to us as we drove away.

She was 90 then and we lived 3,000 miles away. I knew I’d never see her again this side of eternity. And I didn’t. She’s now in glory, waiting for me there.

As we’ve read and re-read Pioneer stories from the Oregon Trail, one of the most impacting components for me has been the goodbyes. One story is told from the perspective of a child. She tells of watching her mom say goodbye to her mother, weeping, knowing they will never see each other again.  Countless women walked that same path, leaving their own parents, never to see them again, so that they could follow their husbands and pursue a new life in Oregon territory. They would have bid forever farewell to dear friends, parents, siblings, all in order to follow the Oregon trail. And even on a lesser scale, all would have said goodbye to homes, comforts, and all that was known and familiar to them. They would have left furniture, countless belongings, anything that didn’t fit in the wagon would be left.

What must we leave behind in order to follow Christ? To what must we “say goodbye”? What belongings, dreams, comforts, relationships? 

All the pioneers considered Oregon “worth it.” (And I must say I think Oregon is worth it too!) They considered the promise of a new life to be worth saying goodbye to all they left back East. I’m sure they wept, struggled, and often missed their loved ones back home, but they reminded themselves of the promise ahead and chose to say goodbye.

We cannot truly embark on this adventure of following Christ until we have said goodbye to what must be left behind.  It isn’t about forsaking things just to forsake them, it’s about asking God who and what must be left behind.

What can’t come? 

A few things I know for certain: Our pride can’t come. Our egos. Our preferences and many of our comforts. Our need for control can’t come. Our entitlement and our rights. All these things must stay behind. There may even be some relationships, some habits, some leisure activities, where we must say goodbye.

The Pioneers’ journey couldn’t actually begin until these goodbyes had been said. 

Our Pioneer journey doesn’t actually begin until these same goodbyes have been said. 

What is it for you?

For me, I must say goodbye to my tendency to see things/events/situations primarily in relation to how they affect me

I must say goodbye to this.

In order to truly follow Christ, I must see all things/events/situations primarily in relation to how they affect the Glory of God and the furtherance and advancement of His Kingdom.

Anybody else? Will you share with us? What are you saying goodbye to today?


This is what I’m doing today. Saying goodbye. True goodbyes are never quick, easy, or flippant. True goodbyes hurt, take time, and usually involve tears.  But true goodbyes are necessary if we are really to travel this road. I’m praying you have the grace today to say goodbye to whatever God pinpoints in your heart. Thank you so much for journeying with me. With love from Sacramento, K