Tender Goodbyes

Read: 2 Timothy 1:1-14

I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. (v. 4)

In our family we hug and say “I love you” frequently as we come and go throughout the day. Perhaps you and your family do the same? This time, Mike was leaving for a week and his hug reflected the protracted duration. As he wrapped his arms around each of the children, his loving embrace lingered slightly longer than usual leaving young Ben completely confused. “Is somebody hurt? Is everyone crying? Why is he doing that? What’s going on here?” The experience of seeing a father tenderly hold his children to bid goodbye was clearly a foreign experience!

Children who have been abused by the adults in their lives have often experienced hands that hit, not arms that hold. Yet the tender affection demonstrated in our household has been the Christian norm for centuries. To openly display affection and lovingly, even vulnerably, share one’s heart, is fully displayed as Paul writes his letter to young Timothy. He writes with a father’s longing to be reunited with his “beloved child.” He reminds Timothy of his prayers for him and remembers the tears at their separation. He recalls the faith of Timothy’s grandmother and in so doing, urges the young man, likewise, to stay close to Jesus.

Is there anyone God has placed in your life whom you might pray for, give fatherlike affirmation to, or hug? Ah, such is the sweetness of human connection! —Tammy DeRuyter

As you pray, ask Immanuel to teach you how to embody, with hands, feet, and words, his tender presence.

About the Author

Tammy DeRuyter is a former stockbroker turned student of theology and history. She holds master’s degrees in both from Fuller Theological Seminary and Central Michigan University. Married for more than 25 years to Michael, an ordained RCA pastor, they have three emerging, young adult children ages 20, 21, and 22—the youngest of whom was adopted at 11.