For me, this time of year has always evoked a sense of finality. Too many endings take place at the end of a school year: graduations, the dismissal of classes whom I grown to love as a teacher and mentor, and my birthday. With all of these transitions taking place, I’m often left with a nagging void that forces me to reflect on all of the decisions, choices, and actions I made throughout the year, and if you haven’t noticed, reflecting isn’t always easy. Sometimes we’re made to acknowledge mistakes, insecurities–maybe even a little regret–that we would rather like to stay hidden. Oh, if it were only that easy.
In my case, I wonder if I did my job to the best of my ability. Did I let any relationships fall by the wayside? Did I grow in my marriage, and most importantly, did I grow more disciplined in God’s Word? Just when I feel as if I’ve answered the questions from the past year, I’m bombarded with the fears of the future. What’s next? What will my students be like this next year? Is there anything that needs to be changed, revamped? What will I set out to accomplish, and how will I become a better person in this new year of life?
Similarly, I can remember being bogged down with the feelings of fear and anxiety I dealt with as I was slowly (yet surely) saying goodbye to my old ways of eating and viewing my outward appearance. I was confused and unsure of how I was going to handle myself without my routines and habits to cushion my fall that I would undoubtedly need at some point in time. However, through God’s unyielding favor, His constant protection, and His unwavering love and patience, He used something new to help me say goodbye to something that was keeping me from growing. Thankfully, He allowed me to get to a place where I could finally plant my feet and stand with confidence.
With all of these feelings of reflection from the past year, and with all of the fears of the next year flooding my mind, I’m reminded of one of my favorite promises from the Lord: “For I know the thoughts I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11) This verse and the following verses reassure us that God has a plan for us, and that when we search for His guidance, He will always show up and provide us with the answers we need. See, goodbyes aren’t that scary, and the unknown of the future is nothing to be afraid of. If God has brought us out of the dark places before, He will do it again.
Goodbyes are merely hellos in disguise!