They say it could snow this weekend, but today the sun shines and the trees tell a different story.
Spring is coming, they say. The buds cannot hide any longer, revealing the pinks and reds of a long-awaited season. Flowers cannot hold themselves back one more day. Their petals in yellows and purples announce, Here we are! as if they are travelers home from a long journey.
Winter is ending, even if snow threatens one more time. The season will soon be over and spring will take her rightful place in the order of the seasons.
Nature is no stranger to endings and beginnings. The world itself thrives on such change.
I used to think life was just like stories–with a clear beginning, middle and end. It was lived linearly, like the timelines students create in social studies classes to depict the major points in a person’s or country’s life. You’re born. You live. You die. The end.
What is more true, I’ve found, is that life is more cyclical. More like a circle or a spiral, perhaps.
And those cycles contain a series of beginnings, middles, and endings, some of them overlapping, and not all of them complete.
When I look at the stories I’m living, some of them, I don’t know how they end.
I’m tempted to wait to tell certain stories until I know how they finish, but my friend Shawn says we should tell our stories even when we’re smack dab in the middle of them.
So, we are at the end of one story and in the middle of another and if that sounds confusing, it is for us, too. But as the band Semisonic has reminded me for years, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
Some dreams are over before they even take off. Some crash and burn on the way. Others make a slow descent back to earth, without much fanfare, grounded after a season in the skies.
Some dreams will never fly again. Others just need some maintenance and love before taking off once more.
I think ours is this last kind of dream. We’ve been unexpectedly grounded, but we aren’t out of dreams, yet, and maybe it was time to retire this particular one and give another one a chance to fly.
Still, beginnings are exciting. Endings feel more like losses. Even if we can see the good to come, even if we know there’s a beginning on the horizon, an ending brings grief. And questions. And doubts.
Maybe we aren’t good enough to fly. Maybe we’ll never fly again. Maybe we were never meant to fly in the first place. It’s safer on the ground. What will we do if we don’t fly? What if we try again and fail?
The questions crowd us, like members of the media flocking to news. They press in and repeat their questions until we’re forced to acknowledge them. Sometimes it’s easier to believe the words from the loudest voices, even if they aren’t saying what’s true.
This ending, it should be the kind of thing that plunges me into panic and despair. It’s still fresh, only a week old. And it was unexpected, in a way, so sometimes I wonder if I’m just in shock, in a little bit of denial. Part of me wants to panic. To think and believe the worst. To give in to the voices that say it is some unchangeable fault in our lives that caused this.
I want to cry without stopping and stress eat my way through a bag of chocolates and scramble to fix the situation any way I can.
I want to. But I can’t.
Instead of despair, I find myself buoyed by a hope I can’t explain. This is going to work out, I think.
Understand, if you don’t know already, that I am not a Pollyanna, carefree type. I do not always think that things are going to turn out for the best. I am a realist, at best, a pessimist at worst. Optimism is not one of my strong points. And yet I can’t make myself believe that we are doomed. I mean, I could, if I thought too far ahead, beyond what I can see and know to be true.
There is an inexplicable peace that surrounds me. I cannot fix this. It’s too big for me to shoulder alone. I am tempted by both–to fix and to shoulder–but God keeps reminding me of His faithfulness. He will not slumber or sleep, I read in the Psalms. He tells the father of a daughter in need of healing that he must only believe. “I do believe! Help my unbelief!” the father replies.
I do believe.
Help my unbelief.
This is my prayer these days.
Will you pray that with us? That we will believe God still has good things planned for us. And that He will help us through our unbelief.
So, here it is: A what-are-you-up-to-now-God kind of story. One without an ending we can see or predict.
We’re smack dab in the middle. Dancing in the ashes of a burned-out dream. Singing through tears.
Will you join us?
I can’t promise you a happy ending. All I know is the end will come. And a beginning will take its place.