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Saturday, January 30, 2016

8 Lessons from Necessary Endings
On October 10, 2015 I pulled out of the parking lot of the apartment that had been my home for 18 years. The moving truck had left, my friends had pulled away, and tears threatened to run down my cheeks. It was the culmination of several necessary endings: a job, relationships, a connection to a specific place of worship, a home, and ministries. We all face endings in the course of our lives, some that we choose, some that we don't. How do we face those endings in a productive way?

Leave well. If you are the one leaving, do your best to leave well, to leave in such a way that people will be glad when you return.

Speak words of affirmation and appreciation to those you are leaving behind. Although relationships may not be ending, when we leave it changes the relationship. We no longer see each other as frequently or in the same settings. Speaking words of affirmation and appreciation let the other person know what the relationship has meant to us, the contribution they have made in our lives. This is part of leaving well.

Train a successor. If you are leaving a job, a ministry, or a role in the community, do your best to train someone to replace you. When you leave, it will leave a hole and the sooner a replacement is found, the sooner someone can be taught the ropes, the easier the transition will be.

Leave behind systems for success. When I began teaching, one of my colleagues challenged me to think ahead as if I would teach for many years and to establish systems that would make each successive year flow more easily. This advice caused me to establish systems not only in my teaching, but in other areas of my life. Established systems can help your successor to transition until they are able to make the job their own.

Accept help. Necessary Endings and New Beginnings, no matter how positive they are, are stressful. Accept help from others when they offer it. Without those who helped me pack, move, clean, and adjust, the path between the necessary endings and the new beginnings would have overwhelmed me.

Be present where you are while you are there. Leaving, moving, saying good-byes can be emotionally draining and the temptation is to disengage emotionally and mentally before you are gone physically. Part of leaving well is to be there until you are gone - to be a friend, to be a colleague, to be an employee as long as you are there.

Grieve the loss. Allow yourself time and space to grieve for what you have lost. Good or bad, what has ended has had an impact on your life, possibly for many years. Be gracious with yourself and create space for yourself to feel the pain, to weep, and to process the loss.

Let go when you are gone. After the ending takes place, after you have grieved, let go, move on, embrace the new beginnings. Make room in your life for new relationships, new jobs, new ministries, new ways of doing things.

What lessons have you learned when you faced an ending - chosen or unexpected?

1 comment:

  1. GREAT thoughts!!!!! I think the one that is sometimes the hardest, but important, is the one about letting go when you are gone. Sometimes I feel that people cannot let go and then become stuck in both places. It also hurts the one who has to take your place at a job or other role.

    I hope to remember these awesome ideas next time I have to move or end something.