“Today may be the enemy of your tomorrow.” This is the powerful way the book Necessary Endings by Dr. Cloud begins. Cloud, author or more than 30 books and perhaps most famous for Boundaries, has been a long time staple author in my library. His blend of research and experience are unprecedented. That’s why I shared these great truths from his book in a recent Facebook Live video that you can check out. Or you can read my thoughts here! ☺
As a segue from the topic of teens we have been talking about lately, there are times you need to stop doing things for your kids. This is also a necessary ending! There is a point where you let them go to the bathroom alone, stop cutting their food, stop doing their laundry, trust them to go off with friends, give them the keys of the car to go without you, and much more!
Here are 3 keys about endings so you can change in healthy ways:
- Be willing to accept that endings are necessary. Sometimes we skirt around endings because we don’t want to believe they exist. So many things about our lives but come to an end, either because other things are coming in or the time has come for that thing to fade out. You can take a chapter of your life, for example, and see that even if it was sad to leave the familiarity of college, there was a hope for the next steps. Or you got a bigger house, but that meant you couldn’t walk with your neighbor every week. Maybe you stopped eating junk food, so you don’t stop at that store anymore or binge in front of the TV. All things end…and it is good because it allows room for what is next.
- Be open to endings…even embrace them. A look at seasons (4 weather seasons, tax season, spring cleaning, Christmas parties, etc. will show that there is predictable change all the time and accepting the rhythms can go a long way to being healthy. Life produces too much life, and embracing endings is key to not “doing it all” and getting overloaded.
- Normalize the idea of endings in your life. Evaluate what fears or anxieties creep in when you think about endings. Perhaps you like to please people and you know endings will ruffle feathers. Maybe concern about finances or a lack of control about your life paralyze you. Make change normal and endings normal and you are on your way to facing your fears and stepping into what God has for you next.
Dr. Cloud has beautiful analogies with rose bushes. He uses what is true of pruning rose plants in order to have the best rose blossoms to encourage us to have healthy perception of our own lives. In Necessary Endings, Dr. Cloud encourages us to do 3 kinds of pruning:
- Trim back healthy, good blossoms that are not the best. This reminds me of Lysa Terkeurst’s book The Best Yes, which similarly helped me see that there are a lot of good things I can be doing with my time (helping with my kids’ school, serving at church, leading boy scouts, planning a neighborhood picnic, raising funds for my friend’s adoption, cleaning my mom’s garage, etc) but I can only do so many things well. Trimming out some good things leaves room for all the resources of your time and energy to go to the BEST people and projects for this season right now.
- Trim back sick branches that are not well. Perhaps you have been trying to make a certain something in your life work. You’ve doctored it and prayed about it and tried to help it limp along. It is important to eventually be willing to face the facts and price sick or weak branches that are not well. The very thing you are holding onto might be the thing that is keeping you back from what is next.
- Cut out dead branches that are taking up space. Parts of your life that are already not working need fully cut out so you can move freely and the new areas can grow and spread out. They have already ended, but they are still inhibiting new growth. What in your life ended but didn’t fully get cleared out?
It is challenging to trust God with change in our lives, but as Ecclesiastes 3 put it so well, there is a time for everything. When we are right where we are supposed to be, focused on the things that is happening NOW, we can embrace what God has for us. Ultimately, it is our relationship with God that guides and sustains us, and he has our best and his glory in mind.