Those simple words that I heard yesterday went deep into my soul. They spoke to me on so many levels of life right now. Do you ever feel like you should be much further along in life than you are? Like if you’re in your late 20’s, you should be settled on your career path already. Or if you’re single and in your 30’s, you should be married with kids by now. If you’re in your 40’s, you should be established in your home, career, and family with a growing retirement account and a sense of security in who you are. If you aren’t meeting those “milestones”, it can be easy to feel like it won’t ever happen, or that your dreams are moving farther and farther away from you. This is especially true if you find yourself in the process of starting over in any area of your life.
2015 held some “endings” for me and 2016 will, too. Some of them I know are coming, which doesn’t make them easy, just easier to prepare for. But some endings have surprised me. I’m sure you have those, too. It’s part of living. The beginning of this year, I was just like everyone else – starting fresh, setting goals; I knew I had some hard things to go through this year, but I was still looking forward to 2016. Then I got a call from the hospital. My parents were in an emergency medical situation and I needed to drop everything and go to help them. That’s not quite so easy to do when you are a single mom, homeschooling, and running your own business. I know my parents are not in very good health and so I treasure the time I get to spend with them and I truly consider it an honor to help, but the overwhelming physical and emotional stress of the 2 weeks that followed caught me off guard. As I was taking care of them and still trying to take care of my family (as we all got very sick) and cover the launch of a couple of new programs my son and I are doing for our Amazon coaching, the realities of just how hard it is to be a single mom were settling in (again), and along with that came a deep loss of hope.
Right before all this happened, I had sat down and written out goals of what I wanted for my life in 1 year and 4 years (that’s a big birthday over here so I did that instead of a 5 year plan 🙂 ). I had financial goals, business goals, family goals, ministry goals… I made a basic plan for my week of how I wanted to spend my time so I could accomplish all of that. I was looking forward to new beginnings… but Life came along and tried to convince me that this was actually the end of it all. Last week, my 3rd son had his graduation from Army basic training. It was in Oklahoma, across the country from me. I don’t fly so I knew if I went, I would have to drive. With everything else going on, it just seemed like too much to handle. But I kept remembering the Mark Twain saying “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than by the things you did do” and I knew missing such an important event for him would be something I would always regret. It turns out, that trip was the best thing I could have done. The weather was beautiful – sunny and 50-60 degrees. All the things I felt were overwhelming – St. Louis traffic, figuring out protocol on a military base, being gone for a week – all ended up not being nearly as bad as I had built them up in my mind to be (how often does that happen to us???) And driving for 16 hours (32 hours total), with no choice but to just sit and listen to uplifting music and look at the blue skies, soothed my battle-weary soul in a way I never expected. As the miles passed, I felt hope returning. Coming home, I knew my circumstances had not changed. There is still loss to be faced this year, still hard things to come…but when I got back, I had changed.
Instead of seeing all these areas of my life as the “end”, I began to see them as the beginning. Beginning new business ventures, beginning new writing projects, beginning a new life with goals for the future. I want to encourage you today that no matter what endings you might be facing, remember that each end only produces a new beginning. Endings are hard, especially for people who crave stability and predictability. They can be scary. But you don’t have to face your endings…or your new beginnings…alone. God is right there by your side – Through the hard, through the scary, through the new, through the exciting… always.
My prayer for you today:
Father, we thank you for always being with us. Even when it seems like we are alone, facing endings that we didn’t expect, help us feel Your strong arms holding onto us. Help us to trust You and be brave as we wait to see the whole picture. Give us the strength to push past the fear of the end to the freedom of the beginning on the other side. Bring new beginnings and fresh starts where the enemy thought he was bringing a finale. Keep our eyes focused on You and the good You desire for our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen
I love you and am believing God with you that you are not finished. What you thought was your end is only the beginning of something great!