My daughter peeked through the crack in my bedroom door smiling from ear to ear mimicking the morning sun. When she discovered I was awake, sitting in bed sipping tea, she bolted into the room Rocky-style; raising her fists over her head, ponytail swinging while dancing a circular jig. “It ended the way I wanted it to,” she exclaimed delirious with joy. “Shows never end the way I want them to, but this, it ended exactly the way I was hoping.”
We’re basking in the frayed edges of spring break, grasping every minute of unscheduled as if it will hold us together when real life resumes. She got up early to finish watching a series on Hulu, one I’d enjoyed over a decade ago, full of teen drama and romance. The underdog won the girl’s heart in the final episode. She was obviously elated. After the roller coaster of suspense and broken relationships, she wondered if true love wins in the end.
And perhaps we’re all waiting for the happy endings, holding our breath through disappointments in the middle. But the in-between, the everyday wrestling, it’s actually the place where the beautiful mystery is cultivated. The bitter that makes the end taste sweet.
According to Margaret Feinberg, Mem is a word Jewish people use to refer to God, the middlemost letter of the Hebrew alphabet. “Because they recognize God doesn’t only go before them or after them, but He is with them every step of the way.” It’s something I’ve known, and now I’m living.
Earlier this week, I spent sacred moments reuniting with a heart friend from England. As newcomers to this seaside town rooted in generations of unfamiliar family names, we breathed easier when our eyes met across a crowded room. But her family left eighteen months ago in a hurry. We barely had time for goodbyes.
I nearly forgot how being known by a friend felt.
As we talked and laughed freely, we realized how much life changed in her absence. Neighborhoods and growth spurts, babies and church splits, yet our friendship remains, deepening during the middle. And I’m not sure why I’m surprised.
I laced up my shoes this morning, reacquainting with solitary, my faithful friends a canopy of birdsong. Stopping to admire spring, the wonder of creation shouts Mem pushing despair down among the decay. The wintering of relationships, the weathering of what was once winsome now reveals the beauty of where true love waits.
And I’m thankful for happy endings. They’re not always what you hope for. They’re better.
This is beautiful! My sister visited with me last week and I agree…it is so nice to be known by a friend!
I have just discovered too that when we say the LORD is my shield and my strength it refers to being in front (shield) and behind (strength). In battle they used the shield and had ‘back up’ strength. Your post reminded me of this new lesson 😉 Psalm 28:7
Arcelia, it makes me smile that you had this kind of a visit with you sister. How special. Thanks for the insight. Your always an encouragement. And i love the photo you sent me btw, so sweet.
Good morning Shelly
I actually had a very quiet Sabbath yesterday. Time alone with God. I did some journalling. I have felt overwhelmed as of late with my mistakes and sins, and all I could do was ‘list’ them on the page. I thought of all the ways I know I’ve disappointed God lately, and myself. Issues of the heart. Things I wouldn’t want to repeat even to a trusted friend. Only God. And it was hard to see these things in black & white.
I’m looking for that ‘happy ending’…when I will maybe, one day far away, be all that He wants me to be.
Oh Jillie……my heart goes out to you! I was experiencing similiar thoughts, and the Lord graciously led me to Psalms 103 & 78, where He reminded me that He understands my “dustedness” and that He knows my weaknesses. Moreover, He reminded me that He would not hold my iniquities against me and that He does not treat me as my sins deserve. These generous, gracious assurances reminded me that I could go to Him *yet again* in repentance, and that He would understand and forgive. It is also so for you, dear Jillie!
Lynn said it well Jillie. I do think we can all be entirely too hard on ourselves. Forgiving ourselves is harder sometimes than forgiving others. And you already are what He wants you to be Jillie. You need to know that. Exactly the way you are and deeply loved.
“Thank you”, gracious ladies.You are always such an encouragement to me. Going to those psalms, Lynni, right now.
I think they will really minister, Jillie.
You’ll never know how much I needed to hear this today. The words written here have reminded me once again of the messages God has been giving me since the first of the year. I’m going to be reading this over several times in the coming days. I am reminded that God is with me every step of the way, through the wintering of relationships and into the beauty of where true love waits.
I’m so glad you let me know Leslie. I’m praying for you today and thankful for the gift of a message from God straight to your heart, the reminder that He loves you and He is listening.
I think the happy endings are better ’cause they’re God-arranged and planned…He’s so much better at it than we are.
You got it Jody, the whole point of the message He was giving me. That endings, even in their sorrow are redemption and therefore good. We kind find happiness in knowing He wants the best for us, always.
I love this post, Shelly, (not just b/c it is exquisitely rendered, as always!), but b/c you remind me to rejoice and bask in happy endings. Life can be rife with disappointment, and sometimes, I’m afraid to hope for happy endings, to the extent that when they come (and they do!), I’m reticent about celebrating them–as if erroneously thinking that if I do, I’ll be doomed to wallow in a sad ending awaiting me just around the corner of life. Yet, God is not capricious. He does not tantalize us with joy, raising our hopes, only to dash them and laugh when we cry. God is always good. And even when what happenes to us is difficult or disappointing, our good God promises to work even our pain together for our good. When I really ponder it, there are never *ultimately* bad endings, because we have been given the promise of eternal perfection and joy, where nothing bad will ever happen again. Yet, God is His goodness still provides happy endings in the midst of mundanity and in the midst of madness on planet earth. There is still beauty and joy and happiness in life, right here, right now. I am glad that you, Murielle, and your friend have experienced it, and that you and we will continue to! We’re all so blessed, Shelly.
I think what you say here is exactly how Murielle felt. She often doesn’t want to finish books or movies because she is afraid she will be disappointed by how they turn out. And really, no matter how something turns out, God is in it. I think I’ve lived much of my life waiting on the future and missing out on the middle and I’m realizing I need to press into what doesn’t feel right in order to learn and grow at the end. It isn’t easy, in fact its painful but its good.
Exactly, Shelly. Exactly!
God writes the best stories…. 🙂
Yes he does.
Shelly, I love the concept of “mem.” I know someone right now who really needs to hear that. Thanks for posting! And isn’t it wonderful that God always knows us, even when we’re in strange places?
I love it too. It stuck with me, I couldn’t seem to shake it and that’s when the story began to unfold. I pray that it will be a blessing to your friend. And yes, I’m so thankful that God doesn’t only meet us in the pristine and perfect but in the strange and messy places.
Oh, we know of another love story, the most beautiful one of all times, waiting to be fulfilled at the wedding feast of our Lord Jesus and His bride!! This one’s end we even know before the consummation.
Love and blessings
Thank you for the reminder Mia, of the greatest story of all.
So thankful for endings that are better than what we can even imagine. So glad our ultimate ending will be that kind!
Me too Lisa.
I loved this, such beautiful words of exquisite depth 🙂
Oh, these images and words breathe Mem. Yes they do. How I love this, “The wintering of relationships, the weathering of what was once winsome now reveals the beauty of where true love waits.”
Sometimes I wish for hindsight in the present, if that makes any sense. Looking back, I always see where God has been at work. Much more difficult in the now. But, yes, how spring reminds.
This is such a lovely refection, Shelly. I’m so glad you shared it with me 🙂
God gave me that phrase on a walk. The ones He gives me are always the words that resonate the most with readers. And I’m not surprised.
Yes, I wish we could live in hindsight sometimes. We would so much wiser wouldn’t we?
Beautiful and it does so go with spring. The dogwoods have popped out all over here as well and it is wonderful.
Spring always comes with a beautiful message doesn’t it?
Oh my goodness, Shelly. This: ” The wintering of relationships, the weathering of what was once winsome now reveals the beauty of where true love waits. ”
Oh, that is gorgeous–you are a wonderful weaver of words, truly. And do I ever recognize this line–yes, I’ve lived this too. How winter can be so hard and feel so lonely, and nothing can change that in that moment. It is what it is, and thank you for reminding me that what is to come–what is to be revealed is so much better than we ever imagined. Thankful for you, friend. Thanks for coming by!
So lovely to see you here Nacole. I know you get this and I’m thankful for who you are.
Shelly I’ve read & reread this over the last couple of day reflecting on the bitter that makes the end sweet & mem something I’ve not heard before both such good things for me to ponder, thank you. So good too to read about friendship being a shot in the arm – so pleased & thankful for both of you. Emma
It seems like its been a sacred echo all week Emma. Helen and I both mentioned you in conversation and hope I’ll get to see you while in London.
so many times, I think I’ve made the perfect plan and I go into a state of despair when it doesn’t pan out the way I thought it should. But the happy ending for me is that I’ve learned that I don’t have to continue to follow this pattern, but can trust in the Master Planner.
Me too Jen, often panic when things don’t go the way I planned. And then hindsight is always 20/20 isn’t it?
Still waiting for my happy ending, but trying to remember he’s with me in the middle of the story. It’s so funny to stumble upon this post today. I was just writing about this! Thank you for the confirmation and reminder.
Love the way God does that. Brings us right where we need to be to hear the message. Lovely to meet you Elodie.