“Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up, and it will.” –Hope Floats

If you’ve ever seen the movie Hope Floats, you can undoubtedly hear Birdee Pruitt’s (played by the lovely Sandra Bullock) voice delivering this quote. It seems a little silly to be quoting movies when I’m standing at such a crossroad in my life, but this one just fits.

I moved to San Marcos to start graduate school in August 2014, and believe me, I thought graduation would never come soon enough. I was at a scary beginning, and I wish I could say I handled it with grace. Let’s just be real; I didn’t. I cried, I complained, and I thought about giving up and going home. I was the queen of pity parties and literally could not wait until I could leave SMTX behind forever.

Fast forward to May 14, 2016 when I walked across the stage in Strahan Coliseum in front of hundreds of people as I was congratulated by the president of Texas State on completing my master’s degree. Here it was, the moment I had been waiting for! I could finally escape this lonely place and go home! Except… things had changed. Somewhere between those lonely first months and the final countdown, life had happened. Memories had been made, and friendships had been formed. I no longer clung to “home” with such ferocity, and I had actually begun to enjoy the journey. I’m sure that when I think back on my time in graduate school my mind won’t immediately jump to the moments spent alone in an empty, new apartment. Instead, I will think of my friends and our crazy adventures. I will remember floating the freezing river and escaping the raging floodwaters. I will think of early morning walks in the scorching Texas heat and my bland office cubicle that was anything but boring. And I will hold tight to all of those “middle” memories.

It’s funny how life seems to work like that. I can’t tell you the pivotal moment when my heart started getting attached. There was no major event, no bells and whistles and streamers, only dinners, movies, laughter, and tears that began to weave my life together with others here. So when the moment came that I was finally “free,” I found myself instead at another sad ending and another crossroads. Life is changing again, and it is time to move on.

Luckily, it’s my choice what I do with my sad ending. I can cry, and I have. I can be sad and even scared. I can stand at this crossroad holding onto the past. Or, I can walk through this sad ending into the next scary beginning while choosing to live simply, love fiercely, and always give hope a chance to float up. And it will. Life is crazy, and everything changes; But Jesus is real, and that’s enough.

Amber Swalley

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 by Eikon Church