Family Grace
By Shawnelle Eliasen

The Sweetness of Goodbye

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35, ESV)

“Does he really have to go?” Isaiah asks. His eyes are wide and worried.

“He does,” I say.

Isaiah and I are sitting at the lunch table, talking about Logan’s upcoming departure to college, over small rectangular sandwiches made of PB and J.

Isaiah hugs his big brother goodbye.“I don’t like it,” he says. “I wish he could stay.” He picks up a sandwich and takes a big bite.

“Me, too,” I say. “But this is best. Best for Logan. And we want to want what’s best for him.”

Isaiah’s mouth is full, so he nods. I smile and nod, too. But truly, inside, I understand. Summer is over. It’s time for school. Logan will move to Wheaton. We’ve done this time and time again.

But it still stings.

So, I sit in the silence and hurt for the sadness that settles on my son’s face. He’ll miss his brother. He’ll miss riding on his shoulders. Listening to vinyl records in his room. He’ll miss making Logan laugh and the way Logan makes him laugh, too.

And as I sit and consider these things, as I think about the depth of their brotherhood, I understand that the missing is good.

The missing means there is something precious. There is a God-given gift. The missing means that their together time was filled with the Lord’s goodness and grace. The missing means there’s a bond, ordained in heaven, that time and space can’t touch. The missing means there is a powerful relationship.

The missing means there is love.

“Isaiah,” I say. “It’s going to be okay. I’m so thankful for the relationship that you brothers have.”

My little son pushes his bangs out of his eyes. He takes a slug of milk. And when he puts his glass back down on the table, he smiles. His milk mustache turns up at the ends.

“Me, too,” he says. “Will he come home?”

“Yes,” I say. “And he’ll be glad to see you.”

And we’re good.

All of my sons will miss their brother. There will be an empty seat at the table, and a there will be a longing in my own heart, too.

But love is powerful thing. And I’m grateful for it.

It even brings sweetness to goodbye.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of love. Amen.

Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have been married for twenty-five years. They have five sons and raise their bevy of boys in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Their sons, Logan, Grant, Samuel, Gabriel, and Isaiah, range in age from twenty-one to six with Shawnelle home teaching the youngest three.

Shawnelle has been writing for six years, contributing regularly to Guideposts magazine, Daily Guideposts devotional and other inspirational publications.  She would say that life with her men moves faithfully, on fast forward.  But it’s her heart’s desire, her passionate prayer, to see God’s goodness and glory in the fullness of her days. She longs to see Him in the unexpected moments, unexpected places, changing the ordinary to extraordinary and bringing quiet, sustaining grace.