A phase of my life is coming to an end. And like many endings, it’s bittersweet. Today, I handed in the second-to-last research paper of my Master’s degree. What a joy it was to drop that one off! Now only one more to go and by Friday, September 19th, I will be done with this phase of my academic career.
After studying for my final paper, I came home. And like I usually do, I checked the mail. You never know what to expect in the mail. I’m sure you know the routine. Flyers in the trash. Bills set aside to pay later. Magazines on the table to peruse leisurely. And then the letters. With the advent of email in my family, letters are rare. So when they come, they’re special. Someone took time to write, address, stamp and mail something that could have been shot off electronically in mere seconds.
Today, we received “the letter.” Knowing what it was, I tore it open before I even walked from the mailbox to the house. I’m not sure what I was expecting to feel. In fact writing this is an exercise of understanding my feelings. The only thing I can compare it to is perhaps receiving a wedding invitation from your ex-spouse who divorced you less than a year ago.
Imagine beginning a relationship with mutual commitment, promising to stand alongside each other, to grow alongside each other, to serve alongside each other, to pour out your life for each other, to grow old together. Imagine the excitement, the sense of purpose, the willingness to give everything for the other.
Now imagine your complete horror as you watch the relationship implode. The dreams, values and commitments changing beyond your control until finally you’re told that it’s for your own good that you leave. Promises broken. Dreams shattered. Calling questioned.
Yet, what do you do when so much has changed? So much pain has been inflicted? So many words have been spoken? What do you do when reconciliation is not an option?
And, my God, the questions can kill you. Was this God’s will? Or was that God’s will? Either way you answer the question, you find yourself on a trajectory that can drive you mad with “what if’s.”
So you move on. Through the hurt, you try to hope. Through the disappointment, you dare to dream again. You move on… You trust…
When “the letter” finally came, it was like finishing the last page of a good gripping story. You smile with moistened eyes. You know you can’t go back. And you know you shouldn’t go back. In fact, despite everything you miss, you don’t want to go back. The story has shaped you and you’re a different person. So you thank God for having been a part of the story and prepare for the new life-shaping story that lies ahead.
You pray for the best for everyone. Rejoice for those still in your life. Set your eyes on the horizon. And live.