For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1
Every hello leads to a goodbye.
Every finished chapter brings you closer to the end of the novel.
Every beginning causes an ending.
I’ve always been excited to start new chapters in my life--earning my driver’s license . . . starting my first job . . . graduating from high school . . . beginning college . . . graduating from college . . . starting my master’s program. When each of these chapters ended, I never thought about what I was leaving; I only thought about where I was going.
Recently, I applied at a missions agency to serve as a full-time missionary when I graduate with my master’s degree. When I made the decision, I felt overjoyed. This was a new chapter, a new adventure. Usually, I would feel ecstatic, but this time, I felt hesitant; I felt saddened. And I realized, for the first time, that no matter what new chapter of life I begin, I have to say goodbye to the last chapter; I have to say goodbye to the chapters that could have been.
Trying to understand my emotions, I began to write:
Growing up, everyone asked me what I wanted to be. The answer changed numerous times - teacher, singer, actress, mom, author. Then, at the age of 12, my heart settled on being a missionary.
But you can’t believe a twelve-year-old heart. Twelve year olds don’t know what life is all about; how difficult life really is; and how decisions define the structure of life.
I couldn’t believe my twelve-year-old heart’s decisions.
But God did.
The path has not been easy, but through each trial, God kept me on a distinct, meaningful, clearly-laid path. And ten years later (at 22 years old), I am applying to go to the mission field.
This should be the end of this post. I followed my dream - now, to begin my life.
But before I can begin, I have to grieve; I have to say goodbye. Not to the things I knew, not to my past. But I need to say goodbye to the paths that could have been. The life I could have lived.
J.K. Rowling wrote, “It does not do to dwell on dreams, and forget to live.” But these aren’t dreams I’m dwelling on - these are the paths my life could have been content traveling. I could see that life so clearly - a Victorian home, handsome husband, adventurous children, New York Times bestseller - that’s what could have been. And, in the secret place of my heart, for a moment, I grieve that life. The life I will not know.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t love the life I’m creating and living with God. It just means that I allow myself to see God’s sovereignty in all things. I had options for my life, but God, in His power and design, brought me to where I’m at - to be a missionary and serve the Lord with my life.
I’m overjoyed for the future, but now, in this quiet moment, I grieve what could have been. But only for a moment because I have the world ahead.
I am between a beginning and an ending. But for me to fully emerge and surrender to God’s calling for my life, I had to say goodbye. Goodbyes aren’t a farewell; they are a way of saying thank you - thank you for what you taught me, thank you for helping me grow, thank you for helping me see God’s purpose for my life.
Every beginning causes an ending, but every ending brings a new beginning.
I don’t know what new chapter you are beginning in your life, but take a moment to say goodbye - say goodbye to the last chapter, and say goodbye to the chapters that could have been.
Goodbyes are sweeter than beginnings because they allow you to see how much you have grown in Christ.
1. What new chapter are you starting?
2. As you begin this new chapter, what do you have to say goodbye to?
3. What has God shown you and how has He grown you through the last chapter?
Abba Father, As this new chapter begins, I feel saddened. I keep thinking of all the things I’m leaving and all the things I could be choosing. Abba, I know this is the path You have directed for me, but I can’t help grieving the old chapters, the other life. This doesn’t mean I’m not eager to begin this new chapter; I am just realizing the value of saying goodbye. Comfort me, Abba. Lead me. I know this new chapter is going to change my life, but before it begins, I want to thank You for leading me to this moment and growing me into the woman I am. I’m saying goodbye, Abba. But I am also saying hello--hello to new adventures, new opportunities, new lessons. I love You so much, Abba. Thank You for Your direction and sovereignty in my life. Amen.
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