As the wise words of Seneca made more currently popular by SemiSonic’s song “Closing Time” so wonderfully state,
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
New. Fresh. Beginning.
There are several times in our lives were we get to experience this sense of a new beginning – the beginning of a new year in January, a marriage, the birth of a child, a new house, a Monday, and obviously a new school year. Summer, which so recently was just beginning, has now come to its end and we have begun a new school year. A year that promises new clothes, new shoes, new notebooks with clean crisp sheets of paper, new chances to try our hardest or be our best self, and maybe even some new friends. Why do we love these things so? Maybe it’s because new is associated with hope and second chance? Maybe it always seems easier to start new than to come from behind, right? Maybe it’s easier to think this time it’s going to be different? But as our wise song lyrics say, this new beginning will end at some point as well to make room for some other new beginning. New/old, new/old, hope/despair, hope/despair….is it just some sick cycle? Only if you allow where you are in the cycle to be the source of your hope.
This morning as we were dropping off our boys on their first day of school, we bumped into some of our friends in the hallway. We began discussing how our school has a new Head of School, a wonderful man, but how different it was to have him greet us outside as our previous Head of School had been there for over 30 years, including when my husband was a student at this school. We were discussing how it must be today for our previous Head to not be there this morning and our friend said, “That’s exactly why we have been really striving to teach our children where their identity actually comes from. Every season is going to end at some point.” School years end, sports teams end, jobs end – if our identity is found in the things we are or do, the cycle wins in being the source of your hope. You’re the best baseball player on the team but when the season ends who are you then? You’re an incredible Head of School for 30+ years, but then you retire – who are you then?” You really rock at being a mom, but then your child is tragically taken from you – who are you then? Where do you find your identity??
You see, for me, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, the answer is always, always the same…I am a child of God, created and owned by Him for His glory and for His purposes. Psalm 139:13-16 says that (paraphrased) He (G0d) formed me in my mother’s womb and I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that ALL my days (beginnings or endings) were ordained for me before I had ever lived one of them. I am not my own, I was bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) and given great purpose. Believing that my identity comes from who I am in Christ levels the yo-yos of beginnings and endings….they aren’t ups and downs, they are just what’s next.
I love a brand new notebook, new classrooms, fresh starts, and new beginnings just as much as you do, but not because it offers me hope, because it offers me excitement of what’s to come next in the story of my life. So as we send our children off and post our back to school first day photos all over social media, join me in praying that our children will learn a true, everlasting identity in Him and not in things they can accomplish or become. May we as adults be ever so diligent to demonstrate that in our lives as well…