Endings: How to End Well

In the first part of this series on endings, Dan introduced the idea that every ending is a mini-death, and, as such, we treat it as something to be avoided or prolonged. Last week, Dan discussed what can happen on the other side of a major ending, when we often self-sabotage out of an inability to experience delight.

“What is your history of ending? […] Our endings—projects, degrees, jobs, relationships—all bear a loss.”

This week, Dan concludes this series by inviting us beyond procrastination and sabotage in an effort to learn to end well. This is a process of acknowledging the sacrifices we have made and the work we have accomplished, as well as the grace and gifts that have allowed us to reach this point.

“It is a moment both of honor and of humility, that you have been granted a glory that is not your own yet comes out of the matrix of your own life’s choices.”

Ending well means intentionally setting aside time for reflection and acknowledgment, time to name the cost, the enormity of the work and everything that has gone into it, and name the moments of grace and beauty that helped carry us through.

“What sustained you to be able to finish? There are people, there are surprising moments, there’s the very grace of God and the spirit of God, and your ability to hold the sacrifice and the privilege begins to give that interplay between death and resurrection.”

In that way, every ending is a taste of both the reality of death and the hope of resurrection. This is no small matter, says Dan, and observing it well requires that we mark the occasion with symbols, icons, something to remind us of all that has occurred.

“One does not simply transit and then end well. One has to linger, to build ebenezers—stones set on one another to mark a place of great transformation, a liminal place of having met God and seen his rescue. […] Can you create art about your ending?”

One has to linger, to build ebenezers to mark a place of having met God and seen his rescue.

Dan ties his observations to the examples of endings in 2 Timothy 4 and Acts 20. These passages invite us to end well through humility, community acknowledgment, icons and symbols, gratitude and surrender to God, and mourning.

“All departures are meant to be engaged with a level of heartache, of loss, but also with that sweetness that for all those who long for his appearing, there will be a victory wreath. […] We are given tastes that are sufficient to help us move into the next labor without procrastination and without sabotage. […] Endings, as bittersweet as they are, can be far better than they have been. May you end well.”