Once upon a time, I read the book My One Word. If you've been around for my writing, or teaching, or thinking out loud at a dinner party, you may know that book changed my life, revolutionizing the ways that I think about change, growth, and a New Year. As far as longevity and influence are concerned, this is probably the book I think of most in my daily life - as I choose My One Word each year and live into it. Mike Ashcraft's words grabbed onto my soul and became the channel for my own growth: "It is better to do something about one thing than nothing about everything."
For me, that's where this story began.
Once upon another time, the author of My One Word reached out to me, asking if I'd consider collaborating with him to write his next book. He had some ideas and titles and a lot of sermons, and he needed a writer to capture them on the page.
I believe my answer was: "Mike, if you are inviting me to partner with you to bring another book of yours into the world, the answer is already yes."
Exploring his ideas, we began talking about what it means to practice the art of conclusion - in a world of "to be continued."
Some things have very clear finish lines. We know when they're over.
A graduation, a marathon, a New Year's Eve.
When the clock strikes midnight, we can all agree: a year has been concluded.
Other things have vague finish lines, and we can't really be sure when we're finished.
A Netflix binge. The mullet. Grief.
We look back and realize it seems to have ended somewhere, but the actual finish is unclear.
We have a tendency to race onto the next thing.
The next episode, the next goal, the next win.
This constant continuation can cause our lives to pile up, and we can't seem to move forward because we're carrying everything we've ever held.
We think what was once true will always be true, because we don't know how to wrap it up.
But finished things are usable things.
If you don't finish remodeling your bathroom, you don't have a bathroom your guests can use.
If you don't finish high school, you don't have a diploma you can use.
If you don't finish grieving, you don't have wisdom and life lessons you can use.
Finished things are usable things.
When we fail to finish well, we live with a pile of unfinished beginnings.
When we learn how to finish well, we can step into the next season of our lives with a sense of rest, contentment, and closure.
Mike Ashcraft and I began working on this book before the pandemic began - tens of thousands of words ago. We couldn't imagine then the world we live in now, of progressing headlines that push right into the next, a season of endlessness no finish lines in sight. What a time to release a book about learning to finish well - even when the world offers you no clear finish line.
It is my honor to introduce to you,
To Be Concluded
How to Prevent Your Past from Piling up and Find Hope for Your Future
By Mike Ashcraft
with T. L. Heyer
(I cannot believe this is my job.)