A divorce, the end of a court battle, death. What do these things have in common? They are all “endings” – of a marriage, of a custody battle, of a life.
Now, I have always been a half glass full kind of person. As such, I look for the good that is often embedded in the bad.
Recently (and some more recently than others), I have been a witness to all of these. I observed as things unfolded to determine where the silver lining might be in these situations. It is said “when God closes a door, he opens a window” and I truly believe it is up to us to find the window and climb out of it to see what is on the other side. Hence, an ending can become a beginning.
Someone close to me recently was caught by surprise that her husband wanted to leave her. Believing her marriage to be idyllic and perfect, or nearly so, she was taken aback by this sudden revelation. As the initial shock wore off and acceptance began to happen, she realized maybe things were not so perfect after all, that not enough energy had been spent on building and maintaining a solid relationship. Both parties recognized their shortcomings , realizing that staying in the relationship would not be wise if both were wanting different things and were not being very good “encouragers” for what the other person needed in their life.
Going forward, they can now BEGIN to forge for themselves a better future. As they move apart to live separate lives, each has a new opportunity to redefine themselves, push themselves to “do better”, reach for new goals for themselves. They will need to learn to rely only on themselves without worrying how the other one would react in any given circumstance.
Sometimes, this concept, this idea, can actually be freeing! The person is now free to be themselves, free to take different kinds of risks, free to do what they want (within reason, hopefully).
So… the end of a marriage need not be the end of life nor does it need to leave one feeling “less than” or “unsuccessful”. It may just mean that it is time to part ways in order to grow through the next part of their lives.
The end of a court case, a custody battle, is also an ending. In this case, it has been an ongoing battle for many years. In the instance of one I am aware of the battle has been between two parents who fiercely believed they were each the better parent. For those who know them, the issues became more and more pronounced as time went on and it was clearly evident that one parent was definitely better than the other. One parent was definitely not capable of realizing the effect that his or her actions had on the children – nor did he/she care. Thus, when the battle ended, the right parent was able to gain full legal and custodial rights to the children.
This ending is now a BEGINNING. Going forward the children will be able to be fully supported by the custodial parent. The parent no longer needs to seek permission for school or health issues for the kids, will no longer have to tolerate the constant emotional drama which happened so frequently. The family can move ahead and feel much more secure which will be good for everyone involved…. That is, except for the parent who now has no legal rights.
No one likes the idea of having to ‘lose a parent’ in this manner. But sometimes circumstances deem it necessary to allow children to reach their full potential without negative influences interrupting them at every corner.
Death of a loved one is also an utter ending. There is no coming back from death. There is no human resurrection in our world. When a person dies, they are gone.
It has taken me a lifetime to realize that death does not have to be only an ending. For our loved one has gone on to an eternal life where he or she is joined by other loved ones. I know that both of my husband’s are now friends in eternity, watching over their families here on earth. They are no longer sick or damaged, but whole and free.
With each death we experience, we get the opportunity to reinvent ourselves. We are forced to become something different, we have no choice. Once, after my first husband passed, a friend told my daughter, “Ever since your dad died, you changed.” He meant that as a derogatory statement. How did my ever-insightful daughter respond? “That’s because I had to. I did not have a choice.”
When someone we love dies, be it a parent, spouse, child or someone else close to us, we are left to grapple with our own identities. It doesn’t matter if the death was sudden and unexpected or something we knew was coming. It makes us feel vulnerable, makes us examine the way we lead our lives. It changes us. Sometimes for a short period of time, sometimes forever.
We try to find our “new normal” – yet nothing in our lives is ever normal, is it? Life is constantly changing. Change is the only constant in our lives. Change is “normal”. We can choose to fight it – or flow with it.
Yes, when someone dies it signifies the end of something – the end of a relationship, the end of the future we had planned. It can be devastating…. But….
If we take time to reflect, we realize we have an opportunity to BEGIN again. To re-create ourselves, to evolve into something more and perhaps even greater than we were before. Every experience we encounter in our lives can be turned into something useful.
It is not easy. I am not saying that. It takes time and effort to dig deep into our souls to figure out what our purpose here on earth is. We may have certain expectations or dreams for our lives and, while it is good to dream, it is sometimes necessary to let go of dreams and allow other ones to take their place. God has a plan for us if we choose to let go of our false sense of control of the world around us, for we really do not have as much control as we think. God has written our life down in His tablet. He will call each of us home when we least expect it.
It is up to us to figure out what lesson can be learned from our life experiences. Draw on them, use them to make the world a better place. Find the answers to the “why’s” of life. “Why did he/she have to die?” “Why did he/she leave me?” “Why did my child turn out this way?”
Then ask yourselves, “What am I supposed to do with this information?”
When my husband was very ill and in and out of the hospitals, I became proficient in dealing with all the medical equipment and helping him as a patient. I used to say, “I don’t care how much medical experience you are giving me, but I do not want to be a nurse!” I was also keenly aware that you should not use the term “I will never….”, as God may twist that right around! I believe I am headed in the direction He intended, using the various skills I have acquired along the way to help others as they transition from this life into the next. I guess you could say, “Challenge accepted.” I have no idea what my future holds, but each day I get to start new, to have a new beginning.
Death is not an ending for those of us “left behind”, but the beginning of a new life, a different life. We can honor our loved ones by continuing to live life. Until we are called home, this is what we are called to do.
Listen to the still small voice of God and the angels around you who are nudging you towards a new beginning. Allow your life to unfold. You may just surprise yourself at how good life can be, at how much you really can adapt.
Let your endings become your beginnings.