Yesterday was my church’s first day in our new building. It was a day of celebration; we even threw paper confetti into the air*. Even though it was a such a blessing to be a part of the celebration, it was a bittersweet moment. It was our first Sunday in a new building, yes, but it was my last Sunday as an a part of Living Hope Church.
This week will be full of bittersweet moments. It’s no surprise; those moments accompany any transition. Not only was it my last Sunday with the Church I’ve been with throughout my college years, but this Wednesday is my last day at the office where I’ve been working for the last three years. I’ll say good-byes and see you laters, neither of which are all that easy.
When times come to an end, I think it’s natural to reflect on all the steps that led up to this point.
Yesterday in church we received communion. I cannot quote my Pastor exactly, but he said we cannot receive communion only remembering what has happened—we must also look ahead to what we can become. My favorite name for communion or the Lord’s Supper is the Eucharist. I am not too knowledgeable when it comes to Greek (even though I’ve taken three semesters of it), but I do know εὐχαριστία is Greek for “thanksgiving.” I love that. It is a thanksgiving meal, where we receive the Bread of Life and are reminded of Christ’s sacrifice so we could live. It extends beyond just a thanksgiving meal where we go around the table and express what we are thankful for. It reminds us to do something with our thankfulness: to go out, to love God, and to love others. To take the broken bread and our brokenness and love broken people.
In this transition time, it is important to finish well. Obviously people like birthdays more than funerals. So part of finishing well is perhaps not dwelling on mourning the end of something, but celebrating all that it brought and celebrate the next step (no matter how unknown it is).**
One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Shauna Niequist:
“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”
I need those words in the transition, and I’ll need those words and that attitude when I have moved back home and feel restless over living the in-between.
So what does finishing well look like? I think it looks like saying thank you. Thank you to God for the experiences and growth. Thank you to the people around you for sharing life. Thank you to the people who opened their homes and their hearts. Thank you to the people who offered hugs when words were insufficient. Thank you to the people who celebrated with you along the way. Thank you for the grace when I was too focused on myself, so maybe there’s thank yous and forgiveness. Forgiveness for the ways in which I could have done more, sent more cards and given more hugs.
And to finish well, you have to live well. Growth is a constant thing and so is change. Living well is being faithful with all things—big and small. It’s not just the brushing teeth, but flossing and mouthwash, too. It’s not the always-have-the-answers, but at least knowing who to call. It’s the yes that’s said in fear, but still audible and acted on.
I’ve been keeping a blog since I was about thirteen and didn’t capitalize the beginning of sentences, but instead just connected everything with series of ellipses. I post a quote on May 07, 2005: “I want… to live… to shine… to breathe… to die… for the glory of God.” Some stranger posted a comment questioning if I really meant those words. I guess you can’t blame him or her, I was only turning fourteen at the time. Eight years later, not knowing what’s ahead, I know I still want to do those same things.
*Yes, as a former church custodian, I was thinking about the major mess it would make. But sometimes celebrations are worth it (and at least it wasn’t glitter).
**I feel like I’ve been in this “What’s next? I don’t know” phase for a long time, so it’s frustrating still not only exactly what’s next, but let’s just say I’m learning to trust God on a whole new level.