Necessary Endings

I am a huge fan of the published works and teachings of Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.  One time when Pedro was in my office after I started writing, he told me I should write books like theirs’.  I laughed.  “Never in a million years”, I said, or something similar indicating how unlikely that would be.  He saw all of their books lining a shelf over my desk and said, “You could make lots of money.”  I laughed again.

Dr. Henry Cloud, author, speaker, leadership consultant & clinical psychologist

While I don’t see myself ever writing books like theirs, my writing is a reflection of their spiritual and emotional teaching.  After many months of on again-off again reading, I finally finished Dr. Cloud’s most recent book, “Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward”.  The title didn’t exactly compel me to read it.  After all, who wants to actively look at ending relationships and such?  It sounds like pulling teeth.

What caught my eye was the phrase “in order to move forward”.  Let’s face it, how many of us are stuck in a rut?  How many of us are repeating the same things over and over again expecting a different result?  That is the definition of insanity.

What this book helped me with was to normalize endings more in my life.  I don’t give things up easily.  I want to make sure I’ve given it every opportunity to succeed—after all, the Bible tells us in Romans 5:4 that perseverance builds character.  That doesn’t mean we should suffer for sufferings sake though. This book helped me to evaluate when initiating an end makes sense.

Dr. Cloud shares valuable insights on the difference between wishful thinking and hope.  Often times we hold on to something or someone because we think there is hope, but really it is only wishful thinking.  I love how Dr. Cloud gives the reader sound advice on these tough decisions.  The bottom line is that in order to end well, we need to be ready to move on and we need to grieve those endings.

I recently witnessed a great example of this principle in action.  When a non-profit made the decision to close down its operations, they invited everyone close to the ministry to participate in a farewell celebration.  The ministry was ending, but they took the time to celebrate their accomplishments and successes.  Some of these people will continue to gather and serve corporately even though the physical status of the ministry is closed.  This was a valuable meeting as it allowed the participants to get closure and, as Dr. Cloud mentioned in his book, to metabolize the grief.

I have had some difficult but necessary endings in my life this year—from work to ministry to relationships.  None of them were easy, but I learned a great deal about myself in the process.  As these situations were removed from my life, it also allowed new and better things to enter and grow.  I had to be willing to enter into the process though.

Endings are a normal part of life.  King Solomon, in all his infinite wisdom, left us with one of the most famous scripture passages about endings in Ecclesiastes 3.

The sooner we learn to embrace endings and move forward the healthier we will be—physically, emotionally and spiritually.  “Necessary Endings” by Dr. Henry Cloud is a great resource to help with that goal.

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5 Comments

  1. Oh Ardis, I have this book and have yet to finish reading it. I love your insight about the hardship of ending things or things ending out of our control. You have inspired me with a light bulb that went off which will help me with some action in my life. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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  2. Jeannie Davis

     /  November 1, 2012

    Ardis: I agree with your perspective about grieving our necessary endings. Dr. Cloud wrote another “winner” it sounds like. Life is constantly changing, and change many times is about ending one thing and starting another. Thanks.

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    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

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