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Thursday, December 06, 2012

What to Make of Endings

A few weeks ago, a very good friend of mine came to me and told me that he was leaving the church.  He said that God was stirring new things in his heart, and his season of ministry in Kelso had come to a close. This news, while not completely unexpected, came as a real blow. Over the next few days, I found myself really wrestling with this news, mostly focused on what I had done wrong or could have done differently.

It was during this time that I noticed a book on my shelf; one another friend had passed on to me several months earlier called, Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud. Out of curiousity, I picked up the book and began to read. Never has a book been more perfectly suited to a time of need.

As our whole church family processes this news, I offer some gleanings from this reading, particularly as it has spoken to my own soul about endings in general. Even if you are from beyond the EHA circle, which many of you are, I think these insights will help you face the unexpected shifts and changes that come into every life.

Change is a necessary part of life. Accept it. One of the mistakes we make is to perceive every change, every ending, as negative. In this mindset, we have no choice but to fear transitions and fight them when they happen. But look at the world around you- cycles and season of change dominate every aspect of life. Life is filled with necessary endings. Endings are the reason most of us are not married to our prom date (and I am very glad for that.) Learn to recognize change as a natural, normal part of life.

Figure out why you are opposed endings. Deeper motivations are usually lurking underneath the fears that surface in our life. When a change or an ending causes us to clench up in anxiety or worry, this is a prime opportunity to assess what is really driving us. Often times, motivations like comfort, safety, and a need for control are more at play than we realize. Good-byes are certainly hard, but the  other emotions we feel, in addition to the sorrow, are worth our attention. Figuring out what really going on can be extremely helpful.

The pain of pruning produces the joy of new life. Each year in the late fall, I pull out a big set of brush clippers and make my way around the yard. I chop back the apple trees, lop off rose bush branches, and ready the blueberries for winter. It seems like such a shame to discard so many good, healthy branches. But I know from experience this brings greater life to the plants. While endings are hard, they are very often the catalyst for new growth and change. Though I will greatly miss this friend, I am excited and confident about what God wants to do next. I can't totally see it yet, but I know it will be good.

Enjoy the season you are in. I had the privilege of enjoying seven years of ministry with this friend. It was an enjoyable season. Now, we find ourselves in a season of transition. Transitions, while more uncertain, can also be rich seasons of learning, growing and change. Several months from now, we’ll find ourselves as a church in another season as ministry moves forward. The point is, all of life occurs in season. Sometimes we can be so in love with a season that was, or so anxious for a season that is yet to be, that we forget the call we have to live fully alive in this present season. So while I may not be looking forward to every change, I am looking forward to how this new season will develop my soul, enrich my faith, strengthen old relationships and bring new friendships onto the scene.

What changes, or necessary endings, are you encountering? What are you learning from them about God and about yourself?

May your journey be all the better because of what God teaches you through change-


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding us to live fully in the
present as we transition from one season to the next. I am tempted to spend the present looking back or imagining what the future may bring.

I am learning God has everything under control. My job is to surrender to Him and walk by faith.

Merry Christmas,