The golden morning sunlight descends in the trees and on the houses of our neighborhood like the stage curtain at the close of an act; it signals an ending, but that is overshadowed by its signaling a beginning.
These words formed on my lips as I walked with Connor one early morning this week, and I began to understand what I hadn’t found words for since the start of the week.
The week was all about beginnings.
I began the new season of my career when I walked into the offices of Thomas Nelson, slowing only slightly as I waved while passing the receptionist’s desk on the way to my desk. Two visitors were at the desk signing in, so the “Sir!” that echoed from ten feet behind me just made me smile as I continued my confident stride. But when I heard a louder, much more authoritative “Excuse me, sir! Where are you going?” I stopped mid-stride. I’m not even sure my thoughts had caught up with my immediate reaction; it seemed to take a second or two to think maybe I was the target of the receptionist’s assertive inquiry.
I turned and found myself mumbling somewhat feebly about being a new employee and heading to my office, to which the receptionist replied “You will stop here every day to sign in and get a guest badge until you have your official employee badge.” I don’t remember what I said after that, but it was some variation of “Yes, ma’am” as I returned to the desk to sign in and receive my badge. This was a most-fitting way for the adventure to begin, and I’ve laughed about it each day since.
It was a week of embracing beginnings. New people. New surroundings. New responsibilities. New schedules. New commutes. New products. New relationships with former colleagues. New energy and enthusiasm. New stories to tell. New knowledge to assimilate. And so much more.
Exciting beginnings emerge like a treasure from a chest of good endings, and I’m so excited about the days ahead!
Friday marked the close of my 30-year career in the music industry. It was a day I had set in motion two weeks earlier when I resigned from my position with Integrity Media. The weeks were filled with thoughts, memories, and feelings that I did my best to embrace as they came, especially the sadness of leaving a company and the company of dear friends in the process.
Here’s what the day included.
- Doing some final clean-up of files on my computer
- Finishing work on some requests that came in at the last minute
- Packing out the remaining personal items
- Sending out farewell messages to both my Integrity Media and Provident-Integrity Distribution colleagues
- Making the final tour of the office, accompanied by Connor, to say goodbye to the distribution team (oh, did I mention I took Connor to the office for the day? I sort of figured the worst that could happen would be they’d kick us out, and that just didn’t seem like such a bad scenario on my last day.)
- Turning in the key card and office key – the final ceremonial act acknowledging I’d no longer be able to pass the front desk without an approved chaperone (and without Connor)
And so it was finished. After arriving home I checked my E-mail and was able to read a number of very kind messages from colleagues who had replied to the message I’d sent out earlier. And while basking in the warmth of those kind words, it happened.
I knew it would, but I hadn’t anticipated when, and it was quite a shock. My BlackBerry beeped and vibrated in protest of a sudden communication problem with the server in Mobile. Huh? Already? I hadn’t really thought about how quickly the crack IT department in Mobile would shut me out of the system, but they’d done their job efficiently and effectively, as they always have when I’ve required their help.
The sudden feeling of finality immediately reminded of something I’d witnessed years earlier. Shortly after being hired by Word in 1981, I traveled to Waco, Texas, for my inaugural visit to the home office. The morning I arrived there was laughter echoing around the offices over something that had happened before I arrived. The previous day had been the final day of employment for the head of A&R, and when he had returned to empty out his office that morning, his parking space had already been re-painted with a new name. His dramatic reaction when he saw it stirred laughter all around the office. (Contrary to what he suspected, the painter had been scheduled to freshen the paint on the spots for weeks. The timing was coincidental, but of course no one bothered to tell him that.)
So there I was at 6:00 p.m., a mere hour since the official end of the business day, and I’d discovered my parking spot had already been repainted. Hmm. That felt like real finality. This was the day it ended.
Recently, a friend was so captivated by a book that they just couldn’t not talk about it. The passion with which they spoke was so compelling that I couldn’t wait to read it.
The topic? Endings.
My enthusiasm toward the opportunity to examine the concept of “endings” in my life was authentic, but mixed with a great measure of apprehension. I had a sense that I was going to be invited to experience some pretty uncomfortable feelings that I’d spent a lifetime developing adaptive behaviors to avoid. Of course I have virtue-laden prose to describe my discomfort of endings; why, most of the time I’ve got myself convinced my reluctance of initiating endings is a strength.
I approached the read with trepidation.
Truth be told, a couple of weeks earlier I’d been visiting someone in the hospital and they’d actually said it. “You suck at leaving, you know?” Ouch.
So I began to read, and there I was, exposed in every chapter. And just after I began the book, a big life change opportunity presented itself and I was immediately living in the tension of what I was reading. What!? As the details of the opportunity were explored, it became clear my path was about to take an unexpected turn, and require me to instigate and negotiate my way through a very difficult ending.
I read voraciously to gain as much encouragement as I could find in those pages, threw my normal caution to the wind, and walked into the required ending.
I’ve begun to learn several things as I’m walking through this ending.
- Initiating the ending well required that I really believe endings are part of the path of growth
- Though it just sounds like such a trite cliche, endings are a necessary step toward new beginnings
- Endings may bring pain and sadness for loss, but those feelings are a powerful reminder of how rich and valued that which is lost is to me, and what a priceless gift those things have been to my journey
- I’ve begun to recognize a bit of the strength that comes from walking intentionally into and through an ending toward a new beginning
How are you at endings? What does the process of preparing for and implementing endings look in your life? What have you learned?