Endings and Beginnings

It's 12:21 AM here in Nashville. Visiting relatives in the Central Time Zone bought us an extra hour this year. We spent our extra time finally watching The Lego Movie because that's how we roll (or how I roll and my wife is wonderful enough to roll along with me). But now everyone is asleep except me. It's quiet. The silence and the calendar reset have put me in a reflective mood.

2014 was not an easy year. I feel bad writing that. Relatively speaking, it was a good year. My family is with me. We are not destitute. Everyone is healthy. But this year wasn't easy. My life has become a bit destabilized. I left my job of eight years: a ministry of which I have been a part my entire life. The pastors of our church left to be closer to their families. And I graduated from seminary. Good has come from all of these events, but it has been a Year of Endings.

I'm not a person who can just shake off the end of something. I have to mourn them even when they finish on good terms. I don't wallow, but I just can't ignore that something is over. It leaves a void inside of me; especially when those relationships, places, and memories mean something to me. Even though the relationships wrapped up in all of these finish lines are not "ending" they are dramatically changed.

This fall has been filled with trying to figure out who I am, what I am supposed to do, and not coming up with any clear answers to those questions. That lack of clarity comes back to bite you when you quit your job, graduate from school, and thus are frequently asked what's next. It's a natural question, but it has thrown me into a few existential tailspins over the last several months. God has not yet spoken to me from any burning shrubs and wondering if there is a place where I fit in can be kind of lonely and frustrating.

So it's good to see the dawn of a new year. Not that today being January 1 magically changes everything. It doesn't; not by a long shot. I'm an unemployed father and husband with a Masters of Divinity who is going to start substitute teaching so I can do the things that I think I am meant to do but do not get paid for. To look to 2015 with that reality is freaking terrifying. But I can't deny the power of New Year's Day: the idea of a new start. There is possibility. Not nearly all of that possibility will be realized, but there's hope. Hope is not a shabby place to start.

And it occurs to me that my Year of Endings had to happen if my calendar was ever going to turn to a Year of Beginnings. I know that Year may be longer than twelve months. God doesn't typically work according to the Gregorian calendar. Change can be painfully, painfully s l o w. But I am starting to understand that this has been and will be a necessary season for me. Just like December 31 is necessary for January 1, I needed these endings for whatever is next to begin. It's a season of pruning or refinement if we want to use popular spiritual metaphors. It's, to quote late 90s alt band Semisonic, realizing that "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

So I needed this year. It has been difficult and sucked sometimes, but I needed this. So thank you, 2014. Thank you for what you have taught me and are still teaching me. And 2015? I look forward to whatever you have in store. I believe there just might be some new beginnings in your revolution around the sun.

Grace Upon Grace

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