As we come to celebrate the New Year we recognize that transitions are hard. Though in many respects the New Year is an arbitrary date, it is an invitation to have a do-over giving yourself the chance for a fresh start. In that spirit, we are going to have a service called “To Dare Rebirth.” Part of this service comes from a tradition found in one of our sister denominations, the United Church of Christ. I liked the service because it pulls three very difficult passages and pairs them with three of the most hopeful. The balance and “dance” between light and dark that will be going on through the service will be an invitation for us to reflect on the past year and give closure to that which needs closure in order to move forward with freshness and strength in the New Year.
Often times in our lives we forget how important closure is for our health. Because of the fast paced world and our feeling like we struggle to just keep up, we often do not allow ourselves the luxury of closure; rather, we just move on to what is next. The problem is that one thing we know as humans is that without the feeling of completion we often carry worry and frustration over. Eventually, if we do this too many times, it can affect the way we think; it can also affect the way we feel.
About six years ago now, I had a call from a woman who needed to talk with someone. I encouraged her to come into my office, but she said she was afraid to. After talking for some time and hearing her past, I realized why she could not talk to me in person. It seemed that every experience she ever had with a man was abusive in some way. Through listening to her story there was a pattern that developed to where she would find herself looking for the same type of relationship over and over, filling a cycle that she felt she could not break, and the hurt of the past was just building.
Now she had accidently met a guy who she had feelings for, and she knew he was different from the men she had previously known, but she was too afraid because of her past to do anything about it. Thankfully I had connections with a good counseling service that helped her for free! A few months later the woman came to my office, thanked me for listening to her saying “You were the first person I ever told that stuff to and once I said it I felt like a weight was lifted off my chest. Then the counseling center helped me to work through everything else. Thank you so much!”
What she and I learned that day was how important it was to find closure, especially if the past is painful. It was interesting how her past was disabling her from living into the future. Granted this is common in abusive situations, but it was also interesting how she was able to go forward with her life once she found help to not get in the same situation and process the past as well as closure for the past. This allowed her to begin to date the guy, and a year later they got married.
What was really interesting was that because she had the counseling and the closure she was able to talk to her fiancé and let him know of her past. While it still came out from time to time, because she was able to talk about it, and own it, she was able to live her life.
I know this is an extreme example, but think about how many little things in your past hang around and don’t let you fully accept the future? Think about how many times we let our past guide our judgment or even push people away? This is why we need to take time to find closure and move forward with our lives in a healthy way.
I hope that you can come this Sunday and find this to be a time of closure for you.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen