Adapting to life's beginnings and endings

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lynn's family moved to a new Army base. Each time they move, the children must enter a new school and make new friends. They are always either entering a different environment or departing. Nevertheless, both children and parents act as if they'll live in their present location forever. They must take that attitude in order to survive and find some degree of stability and belonging. Lynn's wife said, "One way we survive and can feel secure and connected is we first find a church we can attend. Another is through some treasured possessions we acquire along the way. Everywhere we go the family usually finds some mementos and arranges them in our latest home."

The familiarity of worshipping in the same type of church and having access to the same material goods provides some security. Life is filled with beginnings and endings. One learns how to cope, endure, or even accept the beginnings and endings with excitement and challenge.

You purchase a different house, often believing you'll live there the rest of your life. Then you either tire of it, outgrow it, move to a different locality or the neighborhood becomes undesirable. The home fails to continue meeting your needs. You part with it and start all over again.

If you think you've reached a place of comfort that will never change, you had better step aside and reconsider because that too will end and you must begin anew.

Evelyn's family moved quite frequently. In fact she attended five different high schools and about that number of grade schools. Evelyn, rather than becoming despondent and depressed always loved going to an unfamiliar place. She looked forward to the fresh group of friends she'd meet. Her brother always hated the moves. He disliked leaving his former friends, and meeting new people was difficult. There were two different perspectives held on the same situation. Evelyn looked forward to both the beginning and the end. She enjoyed the past but looked forward to an exciting new future with different peers. Her brother, however, looked sadly at the ending of one time and the greeting of another new beginning.

One starts on a trip and finally arrives at his destination be it to visit, for business or for yet another reason. Again, he must end it, and begin his journey back home again and begin where he left off, once more.

When someone marries, hopefully that will be one beginning and ending for the two. They will be together forever until death parts them. However, this fails to always materialize. Numerous people begin and end marriages more than once because of the death of a spouse or through divorce. Regardless one must adjust to each new beginning and ending.

A story was told about a man who had six sons, all of whom were blind. The father put the boys to work washing an elephant, everyone being in charge of a different part of the animal. When the boys finished they discussed what the elephant looked like. One son said the elephant was like two large fans. He had been washing the ears. Another said the elephant looked like two walls. He had been washing the sides. The third son said the animal was like a thick rope. He was washing the trunk. Each held a different view because of what he experienced. They argued and the father heard them. Listening to their story he laughed and explained what the elephant truly looked like. "You are all right, but you are also wrong," he said. He used the scenario to explain how various individuals see God. Everyone can be right but also wrong. So it is with beginnings and endings in life. Search their value and then choose to accept them and be happy or rebel and remain miserable. "A merry heat does good, like a medicine" (Proverbs 17:22).

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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