Reading is life to me. I have soared on countless waves of other’s imaginations, explored beautiful and strange lands, met fantastic and hilarious creatures, and have fallen in love so many times, I’ve lost count. I have dressed like a princess, ridden horses like they were an extension of my body, and said exactly the right words at the perfect times. I’ve ridden brooms and magic carpets, horse-drawn carriages and army trucks on a battlefield. In a book, I’ve done it all! The thing that never ceases to tick me off, however, is that the book always ends. There’s always that last page to be turned and the dreaded words, The End staring up at me, leaving me with nothing left but wanting to rewind the story and jump in the pages so as never to be without it again. But the page always turns, one story ends and the next story unfolds.
This week, I realized that I have turned a page in my own story. Instead of two dreaded words, there were many, many other words. Each one holds promise and hope for a development I’ve not yet imagined. I wonder how I will change, what I will do and say next, how I will face, and conquer, the next set of challenges in my path. For now, the words are blurry, obscured by time and circumstances of which I know nothing. Yet.
One thing I always forget is this: the characters usually look back at the past and mourn things in some way. In the movie The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo and Gandalf are sharing a quiet moment of reflection. Their conversation is brief, but powerful:
I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work, Frodo, than the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the ring. In which case you also were meant to have it, and that is an encouraging thought.
That’s me. I’m like Frodo, minus the hairy feet and short stature. I wish this “ring,” my burden, had never come to me. And I definitely wish none of this had happened. But Gandalf, in his wisdom, set the record straight. Who does wish hard times to come on them? No one. But once the pages turn and I read my story, it’s up to me to write the appropriate response. It’s up to me to decide “what to do with the time that is given” to me.
Things rarely work out the way I want them to. Most often, it ends up worse than if I had just left things alone and let God do his work. I wonder how many times he sighs, rolls his eyes, and says not again, Lynette! But thank goodness he doesn’t ever despair of me, or turn away from me. He lets me barrel through like the proverbial bull in the china shop, but then he sticks right by my side and helps me pick my way through the shattered pieces of my actions. He helps me leave the shop and step out of the detritus and brokenness into a brighter future. He tells me that these events were meant to happen, and then he helps me turn my page.
Does this page turn, away from the mess of my life, mean I will live happily ever after? That the past will stay in the past and I will see nothing but blue skies and fields of flowers ahead? Not a chance. In fact, it’s important to turn a few pages back, to refresh my memory, to grieve.
My guardian angel/therapist struck again last week. I was telling her how much progress I had made, how far I’d come, how many pages I’d turned. She stopped and said, “Lynette, don’t forget to grieve.”
I looked askance towards her, and I waited. She continued. “Every loss needs to be grieved, and you definitely suffered a loss. Don’t be afraid to do that. It’s important for healing and continued growth.”
That concept is packed with freedom. It frees me from the pressure to have “gotten over it already” and from being afraid of having a relapse. That statement says I am free to grow, trip and fall, and get back up again. It says I am free to turn the pages, both forward and backward. And I’m free to make the most out of the time given to me. I just have one thing to remember:
Don’t forget to grieve...and that is an encouraging thought.