The other day I was reflecting on the first week of the new semester. For over ten years I have taught music and I am no stranger in having to say goodbye to students and begin new relationships with new students. It has not always been an easy thing for me to do. Especially when I had two semesters back-to-back of classes filled with students who were just amazing.
Several times I have also had to say goodbye to tearful private students and their parents. Some of those goodbyes were very special to me. Some of those goodbyes have made me a better teacher.
But even though I have some practice in goodbyes, letting go of what I have can be so difficult. Just the thought of having to restart all over again can be overwhelming. It can even be heartbreaking.
And life is full of restarts, isn't it? Dating relationships, friendships, schools, universities, jobs, moving, a new pet, a new season of life... all these things require letting go and starting over.
For me, what has been the most difficult thing in these situations is not knowing how the future of a student or students will be. I want to know that they will be okay and I wish to witness their accomplishments and see them become their own persons.
But then I realize that whenever we are willing to teach or encourage someone else we help form their future. When we show someone that their life matters to us we are witnessing them become their own person.
And heaven knows that in this day and age we all need people in our lives who are willing to press restart and try a new relationship with us.
In my darker moments of ruminating I have focused on the pain experienced at the end of things. How intolerable at times the pain of goodbye can be. And I wondered, how many disappointments can a person suffer before running the risk of becoming embittered or hopeless?
And then I wondered why God allows so many restarts in a person's life? It isn't that they are all sad and melancholy but it seems that as we age there tend to be more goodbyes then not.
Some things have never changed from the beginning of time and saying goodbye is one of them. I mean, have you ever wondered what the rest of the story was for Adam and Eve, or Esther, or Joseph, or Priscilla and Aquila?
I find comfort in knowing that for all the endings we can experience in life God is always willing and eager to restart with us wherever we are in time. He doesn't get bored or anxious or frustrated or sad. He yearns for us to take all of our cares to Him so that He can take on the heaviness of life's goodbyes off our shoulders.
The Bible states that every morning is a restart. We have another opportunity to bond with God and experience new hellos. Perhaps this is one of the greatest lessons I have learned from all my students over the years. Goodbyes are simply making way for new beginnings, new hopes, new dreams, new futures.
We don't always know what happens next in someone's life, and if we're honest we don't even know what will happen next in our own. But maybe that's because we really don't need to know. Maybe what is most important is appreciating the moments we have a part in telling today. Appreciating the now rather than worrying about tomorrow or lamenting yesterday.
The Bible gives glimpses of an eternity that is a future of hope and love and peace. As a Christian I believe that one day I will sit with many I have met and learn all about the rest of their stories and how God never fails. It would certainly be a wonderful way to spend a sliver of eternity.
" The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
' The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'Therefore I will hope in Him.'"
~ Lamentations 3:22-24