When I imagine my perfect world, there are no endings and no beginnings. It is all middles, the best parts of life: the peanut butter in a Reese’s cup, the point you reach in a book where you cannot put it down or the days of a season that are just right.
I am notoriously bad at both beginnings and endings. I do not like change; it makes me anxious, throws off my schedule and generally messes things up. I like the safety of middles, the sense of security and comfort that they bring.
But life does not work this way. We live lives that constantly change, with beginnings and endings coming every day. The lives we are called to live are rarely, if ever, truly safe. Accepting that is harder than I would like it to be. I can think back on my life and remember all of the times that change came, change that I was certain was going to be simply awful, change that sometimes was awful: moving the summer before my senior year, adjusting to a new church and a new school and having to redefine my role in these places.
There have been some instances though in which change did not end up being so awful. The main example that I am thinking of is likely one that many Maryville College students can relate to: coming to MC. I cannot honestly say that I was sure that I was going to love Maryville. I knew that it was a good fit and I knew that it was a good decision. But that beginning was hard, though not as hard as the ending of my freshman year.
I took a risk with the change I made. I could have gone back home, to Birmingham Southern or Stanford, but I came here. I came from far away and I was not prepared for how great that change would be, how much I would come to love this place and these people.
In this instance, though, the endings have been harder than the beginnings.
I know that I dread each of the lasts: the last chapel, the last Bible study or the last worship committee meeting. I dread the knowledge that I am going to be away from the people I love for so long. The changes that come with the beginning of a new summer, a new internship or a new job are scary, really scary. But maybe my fear will turn into something better. Maybe I will be shocked by the things to come, the surprises that God has in store for me.
As much as I love the middles, there are not as many surprises in them unless you have the bookends. God does amazing work in the beginnings and the endings. You cannot have one without the other; God gives us a beginning that comes from the endings. Seniors graduate into new, bigger beginnings. The rest of us have a little bit more time in this middle, in the security that is this home. But the new year will be just that — new.
Instead of mourning this ending, may we take this opportunity to anticipate, maybe with less anxiety than excitement, the beginning that is to come.