The Courage to Finish

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.

[Tweet “Choosing when and how to finish something is so much harder than the beginning ever was.”]

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

Five Minute Friday


17 thoughts on “The Courage to Finish”

  1. Pingback: Engaged Girls in the Bible: Part I

  2. Stopping by from the Five Minute Friday. I really enjoyed this post. I need to have courage to finish a few things. Thank you!

  3. How beautifully written, dear girl. And you will finish this phase of your life very well, and you will EMBRACE the next one, even though you may feel your spirit longing to stay in the past for a time. You are wise beyond your years, Bethie.

  4. What a beautiful written post and a great point! It is a scary when we face a finishing point, but it can also be a beautiful one as we realize that finishing something always leads to something new!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Kelsea! It is so scary to finish a phase in life, but thanks for the reminder that there is always something new around the corner just waiting to be discovered. Enjoy your day!

  5. Kebba Buckley Button

    Bethany, I’m visiting from the UBC. What a magnificent article you’ve shared here. You have a fine heart and exquisite writing skills. Thinking about endings and beginnings, I have always loved fresh beginnings. I love them so much that I think I see an ending as being at the same moment as the new beginning. I love clean slates and the power of fresh creation. Love your use of the scripture quote, too. Please keep writing! The world needs you.

    1. Rev. Kebba, I enjoyed, immensely, reading your comment. I really love the idea of yours that an ending is really just a new beginning. I have not thought about it that way before. Thank you for enriching my own understanding of the lessons that life brings, and thank you so much for your beautiful encouragement. You have blessed me immensely. Good to meet you!

  6. Just this morning I read a devotional about the hardest step being the first one, or getting started. Your post is a perfect complement to that article. Both are very thought provoking. Well done, Bethany.

    1. I am so glad that it fit in with what you are reading! There are always so many different ways of looking at an issue in life, and I am so glad that we are never done learning as human beings. Aren’t you? It is so wonderful to know that we will always be discovering, and rediscovering truths about the world, and about ourselves. Thanks for the comment, Aunt Paula!

  7. Saying “hi” from the UBC. The real test is reaching the finish line and that separates those from the rest of the “runners.” It takes great courage to “show up” and follow-through. This entire post reminds me of Brene Brown’s wonderful work on courage. Those fail never really tried.
    Great post.
    Dorit Sasson
    Giving Voice to Your Story

    1. Good to meet you, Dorit! Thank you for the lovely comment. I love that this reminds you of Brown’s work. I will have to look further into her thoughts on the subject. Thank you for the read, and the comment. Hope you have a great day!

  8. Enjoyed this post. You never (speaking from the perspective of someone in her 60’s) never truly finish until our earthly end – but knowing when to let go of a stage and embrace the next is an art form even for middle aged people. I speak especially of what many call the “empty nest syndrome” – when the last child leaves home. Some of us embrace our new freedom – some of us cry for weeks and weeks and can’t stand our empty, silent house. So, if you learn this skill of finishing now, it will pay off many times as you progress through life and laugh without fear of the future.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Alana! Letting go of one stage, and stepping into the next one is just so hard. But it is a normal part of human existence that, as you pointed out, we are never fully done with until we take our last breath. I am not sure I have mastered this skill yet, but I will continue working on it in the coming years. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, and hope you are having a beautiful day!

  9. I love the quote from Proverbs that you used. That will go on sign somewhere close to my workspace! Thank you!

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