Living with Loose Ends

By Kristeen Bruun

My son called recently to find out how and what I was doing. “I am clearing out,” I told him, and I also assured him that he should be grateful to me. If I were not doing this job now, he would be stuck with it, some time down the road, and it would likely be worse by then.

Aspects of this process are far from easy. I have to face the fact that I have left so many projects unfinished. A box of fabric, most of which still makes me go “Oooh…” as I fondle the lengths; I had plans for those. Boxes of handwritten index cards and notebooks, representing research for papers unwritten, because my scholarly life began long before computers took over the world. Books, of course. What was I thinking as I acquired them, each one with a purpose, occupying a niche in my thought-life? Off to the used book dealer they must go now.

Some things are relatively easy to dispose of. I’ll never interview for another job, so my expensive “interview suit” can go to the local Center of Hope shop. So happy to see it go! A set of teacher’s manuals can go to the Director of Christian Education; they served me well, and may help her.

Even as I discipline myself to let go of many things, at the same time, I’m ordering a couple of books that I need. I’m teaching a four-week seminar during Advent to the Adult Sunday School class, for which I will use Martin Luther’s Christmas Book and Justin Rossow’s You, Follow Me: A Daily Discipleship Travel Log for Advent and Christmas. So the cycle of “letting go while collecting” seems never to end. Although I’ve tried, I’ve never yet left a job with all of the loose ends tied up.

I think this might be how we’re supposed to live. Jesus, after all, did not tie up all of his loose ends. Jesus said, “I’m sending you the Holy Spirit so you can continue on the journey and carry on the work” (John 14:16-17). Paul, writing letters to the churches he founded, certainly recognized that there was work still to be done in the communities he loved.

Like characters in a play, we enter when called, and exit when it’s time. We must place our personal loose ends in the hand of God, who continues to work with us (and on us!) each day. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:11).

As I continue to cull, I hope that I am letting go of things that I will no longer need, and that letting go now is part of God’s plan. But I have to admit, there are books on my shelves that I have bought (and sold) more than once.

Don’t worry: if I need it, God will find it for me. In the meantime, I am living with loose ends.

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