Many years ago a staff member at a church I served remarked that I was tenacious. She went on to tell several stories of how when something didn’t work, I’d approach it from various angles, never seeming to give up until I made it happen. I took pride that this was how she saw me, as it certainly was how I saw myself. But lately, I have become much more thoughtful about how persistence isn’t always appropriate and how sometimes, doors close.
Doors close in everyone’s life. They close when opportunities pass, when problems cannot be solved or when decisions are made that won’t be revisited.
How I am wired as a person is not to let doors close. I usually think that if I kept trying (or better still: if I just gave people more information), I could get people and situations to move. When I feel or see a door is closing, I am likely to run to the car for my crowbar and pry it back open. So, honestly, I’d have to admit: I am not good at closed doors.
But I am getting better. Recently a door closed in my life. It was a door I didn’t want to see close and I had worked for another outcome. But, like much of life; I wasn’t in control. As I sat listening to the explanation, I felt the out-of-body-experience you get when something huge is happening – time slowed, I worked to stayed present and I watched as the door closed. I felt the grief of what would not be but I also felt a sense of stillness; I had done my best, it was time to move on.
Later, as I tried to make sense of the experience, I remembered a recent talk I heard where God was referred to as the God of the Open Door. A great image, isn’t it? It is true, new experiences and opportunities can feel as if God is opening a door. But I feel I have missed the open door God may have had for me because I was busy with my crowbar on the closed door. I was busy trying to control things. I was busy being tenacious. I have missed several open doors because I doubted myself, because I was anxious, because I didn’t believe, because I took it personally.
But as I have reflected more about this, I have come to find that while God is certainly a God of open doors, God is also the God of closed doors. Honestly, I am not sure if God is doing the closing or if God just meets us at the closed door, but either way: God is there. Both open and closed doors are part of this life, part of my life, and if God is the God of open doors, certainly God has a part in closing doors as well.
The last time a door closed in my life, I remember how dang uncomfortable I was. My response was to run ahead and open new doors without much regard for what doors they were. I felt uncertain in the space that existed between the past and the future. I asked: what should I do? I wondered: what would happen to me? I was anxious about my life. But this time, I am working to do it differently; I am giving up opening my own doors and instead am watching for what doors God opens. I am trusting, I am waiting. This time, I am working on letting God be the God of open doors.
It is a new year and with that comes new things. I plan to find God in both beginnings and also in endings.