The phrase “When one door closes, another opens” has become commonplace in our conversations whenever we experience life change. Many even think it’s a verse in the Bible. We often tweak it to say that “When God closes a door, He opens another.” It’s not actually in the Bible and as far as I can tell the earliest reference to this idea is from Miguel de Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote. Published in 1605, Cervantes wrote: “When one door is shut another is opened.”
Today most people attribute this phrase to Alexander Graham Bell. What we often miss when we quote this idea from Bell is that it was only the first part of his sentence. In 1935, after his passing, Bell was quoted in The Winona Times as saying:
“When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
A lot of doors have closed in our lives this past year. That’s true for people around the world as a result of Covid-19, but was also especially true in our family’s story. As a result, we’ve found ourselves as a safe space for many others who have experienced something similar. There is so much overlap in these stories and it’s our sadness and grief that often unites us together in profound ways.
I’ve found the first part of Bell’s phrase to indeed be true. I’m no longer on full-time staff at a church. That’s a strange reality for me as I had envisioned myself retiring as a Lead Pastor. That door has closed. But now I get to speak regularly at a variety of churches around the country and have the space to launch Communion Wine Co into brand new opportunities. Those doors have opened.
And the second part of Bell’s phrase is equally true as well. I’d be lying to say it’s not a temptation to “look so long and so regretfully” upon what I used to know. I’ve seen this same reality in those with who we’ve had the chance to walk alongside as well. There’s a strange comfort and security in the familiar, even when the familiar ended painfully. But to keep returning to this is to miss what lies ahead of us. That’s the thing about doors… they can be opened again. And therein lies the temptation. To keep opening the closed doors of our past is to miss the adventure of a new door we’ve never opened before. It’s a bad trade that our insecurities beg us to make.
I suspect I’m the only person with a Master’s Degree in Theology among the list of students in my online wine courses. It’s a bit of a strange place to be… and yet. It’s a new door and it keeps opening into new opportunities. And that’s the fun part about doors. Until you open them, you don’t know where they lead. We don’t even know how many doors we’ve yet to find.
I love the Apostle Paul’s phrase in his letter to the Church in Ephesus. “Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes” (Ephesians 4:23). That’s not a one-time decision. That’s a wake-up-each-day-moment-by-moment decision we make over and over again. It’s scary, but it’s worth it. Especially because we don’t do it alone. Our choice is to submit ourselves to the Spirit’s renewal and then She does Her part.
Spirit… may you renew my thoughts and attitude for this moment.To keep opening the closed doors of our past is to miss the adventure of a new door we've never opened before. Click To Tweet