Love in The Long Goodbye (Documentary Review)

Lisa HollowayBy Lisa Holloway5 Minutes

The Long Goodbye is a documentary about Kara Tippetts’ amazing life, including guest appearances from Ann Voskamp, Joanna Gaines, Dianne Derby, and golden-voiced singer Ellie Holcomb.

If you found out you were dying, how would you respond?

Would you be angry? Sad? Shake your fist at God? Would you be filled with regrets and shut yourself off from a world that couldn’t understand your pain?

Or would you open up in complete honesty and vulnerability and ask questions like …

“What if, instead of being angry at life, you learned something of love today? Why is it that we withhold love? Why?”

Love in The Long Goodbye is a key theme, as young mother and pastor’s wife Kara Tippetts chooses to love. She opens up her life as a testimony to the goodness of God—the God who’s there in the midst of her three-year battle with terminal breast cancer.

Withholding Love

Looking back at moments in my own life, I can see how easy it is to withhold love in the midst of struggle. To close yourself off while you wrestle with that thing that’s a little too big. To turn away from questions you don’t know how to answer.

Why do I withhold love? Often, it’s because of disapproval or fear or self-protection.

I remember as a teenager when one of my close friends was going down a bad path. I didn’t understand why she was making those choices. So I pulled away. And while it was right not to follow her down that path, I have to wonder if things would have been different for her if I’d left the door open.

What if she’d had someone who loved her to talk to … apart from the friends making the same bad choices? It still would have been her decision. But by closing the door, I took away one of her options. I was too immature to understand that then. To love well.

Living in the Hard Moments

Maybe that openness—that realness—that Kara exhibits in her relationships as she deals with cancer isn’t just for dying. It’s for living. It’s for living in all the hard moments, remembering how Jesus loved, even to His last breath on the cross—arms open wide.

That’s how Kara chooses to die over the long haul. Snuggles with littles, who don’t want her to go. Walking through the awkward with friends—all of them certain that they’re her best friend. Intimacy with her husband when she doesn’t feel pretty. She allows them all to grieve with her and laugh with her and share her weakness while she’s still here.

They hear her saying that God is still good, even when her story is most difficult and not what she expected. They see her learn to trust that God will be there for her family when she’s not around anymore.

Love in The Long Goodbye

Kara loved to think about the passage in Philippians about abounding in love, and what that looked like. She decided that “abounding” meant loving more today than yesterday—and that loving like that meant we have to be uncomfortable. We have to “love big.”

As she so generously opens up, Kara leaves an enduring testimony, intensely bright and beautiful. It is, perhaps, the truest a mother can leave to the children who’ll only know her for a little while. Yet they see how her light shines warmly in the darkness.

I love the way her mentor, Ann Voskamp, said it: “Kara’s voice got clearer and stronger and more blazingly brilliant as the rest of her faded away.”

In The Long Goodbye, you’ll be touched but also inspired, as so many others have been. Maybe you’ll cry, but you’ll also laugh. Her journey will stay with you—a journey of love and mundane faithfulness, and the grace of a life well lived. The heart-deep faith and love in The Long Goodbye make it a must-watch.