I was laid off from my job 2 days ago.
How’s that for a subtle opening? Let’s just establish a little credibility before I proceed any further. Lest you think this is my first rodeo, let me assure you it isn’t. In the 22 years I’ve been working, this is actually the 3rd job I’ve been laid off from. I’ve been fired from 1 and have resigned from 8 others. Some jobs lasted 5 years while others lasted 6 months.
Whether it was a job I left voluntarily or one I left involuntarily for one reason or another, the 2 things they all had in common are a beginning and an ending. That moment when you first step into a place, wide-eyed and green, full of optimism and ideas often stands in stark contrast to the moment when you take your last steps from a place and all your hopes, accomplishments, efforts and even failures just… stop. Sometimes you get to choose the ending, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes the ending is abrupt and unexpected, sometimes it is a planned slow fade and other times it is a grueling drag to the finish. Whatever way it happens, one thing is for sure:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build.4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Think it not strange when these things happen to you. Welcome to the universe. Things that begin, somehow end.
I was reminded of this simple truth once again this week as I pulled out of the parking lot of my job for the last time on Wednesday afternoon. Since then, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned and am continuing to learn about endings.
This is important to understand. When you’re younger you don’t tend to default to knowing that right now is not forever. But as you keep living, you’ll realize that beginnings really are ultimately invitations to endings, and likewise, endings are invitations to new beginnings. Don’t let one distract you from the purpose and value of the other. If you can grasp this, change becomes a lot less catastrophic.
I like to think of this in terms of mountain peaks and valleys. It’s as though one exists to usher in and point to the other. A peak is only a made a peak when neighbored by a valley. Likewise, the beauty of a valley is only fully realized when dwarfed by a peak on either side. To fully be what they are, they need each other. Beginnings need endings, they develop trust. Endings need beginnings, they give us hope. Soon you realize that what often looks like the end is really just the space between. The space between peaks. The space between heights. The space between beginnings.
When something ends, it can be hard to see past the moment. It’s easy to think you’ll always be where you are. But the truth is, the end… the valley… the middle… is a gift. It is where I reflect on where I’ve been. It is where my heart rests and recovers from the journey that brought me to this moment and refuels for what lies ahead. Be careful, though, not to build a house where you’re supposed to pitch a tent. Don’t unpack and don’t get comfortable, you’re not there to stay.
Knowing I’m not here to stay, I’ve often been too eager to jump from one season to the next without fully appreciating and embracing the gift of where I am. I am no stranger to the middle. This time though, I am choosing to be fully present. There will be plenty of time to scale the next peak when it comes, but for now I am taking the time to just sit. To BE. Right here. In the end. In the middle. I am allowing myself to celebrate the wins, mourn the losses and fully breathe in the gravity of the moment.
Check out my FITS OF BRAVERY Spotify Playlist, a soundtrack for the journey of “the middle”.