Well, here it is. The end of the spring 2020 academic year.
Feels weird, doesn’t it?
No overly posed pictures of high school students before prom floating around social media. No college graduation announcements gracing our mailboxes. No plans to shake shakers or wolf whistle while that special someone walks across the stage, receiving the title of “graduate” they’ve worked so hard to earn. No in-person award ceremonies for sports, dinners with college friends, or goodbyes as you or loved ones move into the next phase of life.
Yeah, something feels off.
The endings we have so been looking forward to look like nothing we could imagine.
What do we do when the end seems wrong?
I think it’s prudent to look back to the apostles after their Lord was crucified. Their savior, the anointed one, was put to death at the hands of men and tucked inside a borrowed gravesite.
Probably not the ending they were hoping for, looking forward to, or expecting. No, I can imagine the frustration, the anxiety, the annoyances they felt, having followed this man who promised them eternal life, only to hear that he’d been buried in a tomb.
But this surprising “ending” led to so many incredible new beginnings, as we know—Christ’s resurrection and ascension into Heaven, the Great Commission, and all of the ministry and miracles recorded in the entire Book of Acts…and then more!
When we mere humans see a stop sign, Christ sees a yield sign. When we see a closed door, Christ opens another one. Our understanding of life tends to be centered around endings, and Christ invites us to reevaluate to see endings as new beginnings.
And sometimes that just sounds nice and pretty, no? Ms. Wynona Judd was proud to sing “every ending is a new beginning.” Semisonic quotes ancient philosopher Seneca when they sing, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” The movie Uptown Girls reminds us, “every story has an end, but in life, every ending is just a new beginning.”
It is an overused phrase that always seems to pop up this time of year when many of us are experiencing major transitions in life.
And of course it’s all true. When we allow ourselves to see each ending as the start of a new opportunity to witness Christ in the world and to bring His Love to others, it can transform our mindset.
But seriously, what do we do when the endings seem weird? I have a little advice.
Yes, that oft used Christian phrase referring to seizing a veiled opportunity for personal growth.
Growing up, we were always told to “lean into” the uncomfortable situations when we were doing service projects with people we didn’t know. We were told to “lean in” when things got hard and we needed to put our trust in Christ into practice.
Confusing opportunities are in fact the perfect time to lean into the arms of Christ, to say, “Lord, I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know how this could possibly be the end. It wasn’t supposed to be this way in my mind. But I know that your plans are bigger than my own. Help me to trust in your promise. Help me to believe that you will not hand me a viper when I ask for bread. Help me to know your love for me.”
A beautiful image of a child tucking into his parents’ lap, or a friend going in for a hug with someone leaving them. Leaning into the moment helps us to say, “I know this isn’t what I thought I wanted. But I know that good will come out of it if I let it.”
Lean in, my friends. Make room for the Lord to work. Remove what you thought you wanted, what you thought you knew, and give Him space to breathe new growth into your life.