I have a thing about community. It is something I crave, yet long to share…
Spring is here! I couldn’t be happier! I look forward to each change of the season. I love shifting my mindset, setting intentions, decorating differently, and really looking at how I can make the most of the season for my family.
I kick off this new season with spring cleaning! Let’s be honest, this is not a one day thing. This is a deep dive into the nooks and crannies of my house, spanning across days, weeks even! It’s amazing what hunkering down for the dark winter does to those dark and dusty corners. One of the first areas that catches my attention: the bookshelf in my office. In particular, the shelf that houses all my many journals. This shelf makes me cringe. It’s not that I have so many journals, I will never be ashamed of my collection. It’s that I can take any one of those journals off the shelf, flip through the pages, and see that usually by mid-way through the journal, scribbles of ink turn to empty pages with no stories to tell. Ah, but they do tell a story, a story of a work in progress.
As my fingers revisit the pages, I turn past writing ideas, bible studies, book commentaries, prayers, goals, notes, the pages go on and on. With each journal I hold, I travel to a snapshot in time of what was on my heart, where I found myself, where I hoped to be, and what captured my thoughts. The journals are as different as the years they reflect, yet, there is one thread of similarity that binds all the pages together: every unique journal is unfinished. Some journals reflect my frustration with my inability to finish what I start. It’s quite visible where pages were torn out in an effort to repurpose the journal to a new beginning, a new unfinished work. I wonder what those pages would say if they were still bound together.
This lack of follow through or completion is not a new game that I play. Just ask my husband. He can tell you about every diet, every workout program, every goal, every habit, and every good intention that I set out to knock out of the park. Yet, I run out of steam and passion before I can even round the bases. What happens to me in the infield? Perhaps I don’t see the results I’m looking for, maybe my prayers don’t seem to get answered, maybe life picks up speed and time dissipates. The journal of that moment just fades away into the hustle and bustle.
Can you relate?
I think all of us at some point feel the frustration and pain of not seeing the conclusion to a beginning we pour ourselves into.
We pour into our kids and try our very best at the latest and greatest parenting strategies, just to see them pour it all out in a tantrum before bedtime. We work hard to make others feel welcome and included, just to feel like the odd one out. We have dreams and ideas that have been planted and nurtured, but we watch for fruit that never comes. That perfect recipe that we lovingly crafted together with time and the precise ingredients, falls short of what our taste buds had envisioned. We step out to establish our presence in the world, only to find that the person in the shoes isn’t who we truly are. It can be so discouraging.
Take heart friends, our stories aren’t done. While one chapter seems to be concluded, there are more to come, each building and relying on the chapters before them. Those journal pages might be blank right now, but there is a Heavenly Author who is just getting started, and He will see this journal through to a glorious completion.
Paul says it this way as he speaks to the Philippians:
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 NLT)
For those of us list junkies who find the most satisfying thrill in crossing off our list, this is good news. One day, that list that so eloquently tells the story of our lives, our purpose, will be crossed off, and beautifully complete. For those of us who purchase a book, read a few chapters, and can’t bear to wait another moment without having some idea of where the story will end, this is bittersweet. We find comfort that our Divine Storyteller promises He will finish the good work began in us. Yet, our humanness cries out with impatience, “I want to know where this goes! I want to know how this ends! Tell me I did this for a purpose!” It’s in this moment, that I can picture our Father cupping our frustrated faces in his hands, and lovingly looking into us, “Beloved, there is so much more story to tell, don’t be frustrated. Instead, be encouraged, I will continue to reveal myself through you. It is a beautiful story, don’t rush it. You have no idea the part we will play together, in the stories of others.”
Embrace those journals my friends. Reflect with kindness towards yourself on the pages that are full. You have been telling a love story your entire life, and you may not have realized it. When the time comes, where you turn the page to find an empty one awaiting your story, smile with hope. You are not finished living out your wondrous purpose, and the words of your journey will quickly fill up those pages. When your journal is full, your story complete, may you hear the comforting words of the final line, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your story.