I started this post on my computer and was going to name it "The End is the Beginning" only to find out that I had used that exactly title 9 months ago. It seemed like an appropriate title again as I just completed work on my second to last quarter of seminary. In a little bit more than a month, I will be taking my last two classes to complete my degree.
Ironically, there are tears of sadness and heartache welling up in my eyes as I write this. One would imagine that the tears that I would shed would be tears of joy, especially one who knew what the last 18 months of my life have held. But there is a sadness there because of the ending of a long journey. I imagine that when the last keystroke falls on the last page of my last paper of seminary, I will feel a similar emotion, except probably magnified by at least ten times.
The end of something, for anyone who sincerely wants to continue moving forward, signifies change. Life will change for me again when December comes. Things will be different, but different does not mean bad, it just means different and lends itself to new opportunities.
I was struck by my conversation with a friend who shared a recent experience of being away and unplugged for a few weeks. He claimed that once everything was stripped away, there was no place to hide. He could not hide in his work. He could not hide from his family. He had a choice to face or flee from reality. I have a similar choice before me.
As I reflected on the title of my blog the other day, I realized that I probably have not confessed as much on here as one would expect from a blog titled "Confessions of a Recovering P.K." I thought long and hard about why that was and the truth is, it's probably to protect others besides myself. My father, the pastor, has not been in good health since my mom died. In reality, he has not been in good health since long before then, especially when you consider that health extends far beyond our physicality and reaches to our spirituality and our mentality.
When my wife and I lived in Asheville, North Carolina, we began to notice a trend in my father. He and my mom would come and stay with us for a week at a time. As the week went on, we noticed a change in his demeanor as the day of departure grew near. He would begin to disengage, to pull back from activities and isolate himself. It almost seemed as if it were a defense mechanism from the pain of leaving.
As we all age, there is a distinct realization in us that we are not guaranteed anything. Years ago, when my aunt died, I vividly recall my parents dropping my wife and I at the airport after the funeral. As I began to say good bye to my parents, that realization came over me and I was overcome with emotion. I began to sob as I held my mom in my arms. Fortunately, I had some years after that to enjoy, but the reality was too strong for me to deny.
The isolation that I observed in my father is present within me, we have the same DNA. I can easily isolate myself or immerse myself in something that will take me away from the present reality that I should be facing. If I am not careful, good things can pull me away from what is great in my life. I could easily find myself withdrawing in an attempt to protect my feelings and emotions. The right thing to do is not necessarily the easy thing to do. As I've heard many people say before, "If it were easy, everybody would be doing it."
But that is the beauty of grace to me, it's like a Mulligan. We get a "do over." We acknowledge our mistakes, but we get back up on the saddle and try again. Failures don't define us, they make us who we are, stronger and better if we learn from them.
December will be an end of sorts for me, but it will also be a beginning. I will start over. Something will finish but something else will begin. I don't know what it is, but I can feel the murmurings of newness within me well in advance. Aslan is on the move, but who's paying attention. Who's looking to see where He is going, how He's moving?
Opportunity awaits. Fresh starts lie just around the corner. Will we run towards them or away from them? I'm looking forward to what's lying just on the other side.