I have a favorite podcast that comes out on Tuesdays. It’s called “The Next Right Thing” by Emily P. Freeman. I love it because it’s short (usually 15 minutes or less), but it’s power packed. I also love the calm of her voice. It suits me on Tuesdays.
That’s not to say some of the other ones I love who are maybe not as calm aren’t also lovely and full of truth, but on Tuesday, I like the calm deep truths for some reason.
Anyway, today’s episode was titled “Don’t let the ending define the whole story.” God convicted me a little today. I live a lot for the endings of things. That’s not say I enjoy the endings of things. I just look for the end and guard my heart against it. I’ve done it for as long as I can remember. As soon as I know that someone is “leaving me” (you know getting another job, moving, or whatever), I start to detach rather quickly. In fact, I remember times when a youth minister I really liked or a pastor was leaving my church growing up and I would just get mad at them. It was easier to be mad than sad. (Mad is often my go to emotion in order to avoid the others it seems.)
To be fair, I know that endings hurt. When you’re deeply hurt by an ending as a preschooler, it’s hard to look at any goodbye as a happy one. And so you brace yourself and put up the walls that are necessary to make sure you’re never hurt again by a goodbye. Unfortunately that sometimes means you prematurely end something and miss out on some good things.
But there’s so much more to stories than the ending. In this episode she talks about a 104 year old who lived a great life and then died in a house fire. (There’s more to the story. You should listen to it.). It’s a terrible ending, but the rest of the story is where the good things lie. Everything that begins will eventually end. It may be a lifetime down the road, but all things end. You can’t stop the end from coming. Looking, examining, watching for that end will make you miss out on the best parts. And sometimes, or so I’m told, there’s even good in goodbyes.
I think the reason this was brought to my attention today is because I’ve been on “ending high alert”. There’s a lot of change happening. There are people leaving that affect me. And I want to erect those walls. (One of them didn’t give me ample opportunity to wall up, but isn’t completely leaving so I can deal.). But maybe I need to embrace those endings as just different sorts of beginnings.
Also I think I’m inventing some endings. I detest the idea of being left and being left behind. Some changes just feel like they will leave me here, alone. But they may not. I’m still living in the body of the story. I need to keep living in that part and not jump to the end. Yes, I do like to read the last chapter of novels first to make sure I’m going to like them. I do google how movies end because I don’t like to be surprised with tragedy when I thought it was a comedy (yes Uptown Girls…I’m still really mad at you for that.). But if I know what’s going to happen, I may miss the part of this that’s a “choose your own adventure” type story. Can it end? Sure. Will it? Maybe not. Will we go out in a blaze of glory? I mean that might be a good ending.
I need to stop putting so much pressure on the endings and just live the story. Embrace my life as it happens and stop trying to figure out how it’s going to happen. Settle down and live.
In the same way, I need to stop putting so much pressure on the future. Yes, I have big dreams that scare me. Yes, I want to guard my heart against heartbreak so I pretend some of the dreams I always had are no longer important to me. If I say they don’t matter, it won’t hurt if they don’t happen, and everyone will be surprised if they do. But that’s a crazy way to live.
The above quote says to me that it’s okay to look into the future a little and see what might be. But it’s more important to live in the right now, to do what God has for us in the right now. Do I still dream big dreams? Of course. But I live the little ones in front of me right now. I take one step and then another, knowing that God is molding me for whatever lies ahead.
Will I get to realize all the dreams I have? Maybe. Maybe not. Will it hurt if it’s not? Yes. I’m sure it will. But the quest, the journey, the path…that’s where the good lies. I need to live the part of the story that’s being told now. I need to live the heck out of it.
With eyes ahead, I need to look around and not miss the amazing blessings of the here and now. It’s what God is doing right now that will ready me for whatever He may do in the future.
Embrace the now. Live through the hurt, allowing it to hurt sometimes when it needs to because the scars tell a story too. Don’t be so focused on the big things that you miss the beauty of the small things. Breathe. Live. Thrive.
Embrace your people tightly even if you think they might leave because one day, whether quickly or a long time down the road, God will ask for them back in one way or another. Enjoy what you have and live your story for the part you’re living now. Don’t live it for the end. Don’t miss out on the good stuff.