Lisa-Jo Baker began this week’s Five Minute Friday with the words: “We tend to think that starting is the hardest part of the story. I think it’s finishing”, and I agree wholeheartedly. This is something I have been mulling over a lot lately. How difficult it is to move on from a stage of your life that you have grown used to, and how to finish well.
I love new beginnings. I adore a freshly opened box of crayons. I enjoy beginning a new challenge. I love filling my lungs with the smell of a new car. But I loathe finishing things about as much as I love new beginnings.
I remember in high school when my friends and I were all struggling with where to go to college. It was the most insurmountable decision to make in the world–at least it seemed like it was at the time. But we all cried, prayed, and then made our way through that Big Scary Decision, and now–in a bewildering fashion–we are on the other side of that major turning point. We are now within a year or less of graduating college. Finishing college. And, somehow, that decision that Big Scary Insurmountable Decision is in our past, withering into a pile of dried leaves of other decisions that were made and moved on from, and we are now facing a new one–what to do next?
I think all too often we focus on how much courage it takes to begin something new. We encourage each other to sign up for that 10k, or support our friend when she starts a business, or have a big send off when our cousin moves across the world to become a missionary. But how often do we talk about the courage it takes to end something well? Where are we in the last few miles of that 10k, or when the business crashes and has to go into bankruptcy, or when our cousin finishes her two year stint and is packing for home? Choosing when and how to finish something is ever so much harder than the beginning ever was.
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In college I have puzzled over a young man who seems to hang around the campus, long after he has achieved his degree. He cannot seem to let go of his college years, and so he stays. He fits in college events in his free time. He finishes work quickly so he can jump in the car, and drive over to see what the batch of college kids are up to. He chooses to forget that he is no longer in college, instead embracing what used to be instead of what is.He does not want to realize that this part of his life has passed. I know it hurts.
I can see myself in him. I can see my own complacency, and my own grasping to keep things the way they are, in his hopeful and wishful expression. I, too, wish I could stick only to what is comfortable, and what is known. But I am growing up. College is coming to an end, and I do not want to make the mistake of forever clinging to the old, and forgetting to embrace the new.
I choose to have the courage to finish well, and I will look with a happy face, to what is on the horizon.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she laughs without fear of the future.” -Proverbs 31:25 NLT