Some of my family members are cooler than me. They like artsy movies.
I want to like artsy movies, because I know that’s the hipster thing to like these days. But I’ve got to be honest: I just don’t like artsy movies.
The cinematography might be incredible and the score might move me to tears, but it seems to me that artsy movies never wrap up with a bow the way a perfect Rom-Com does.
A while back, my sister, Ellie, told me that she and her fiancé, Jared, went to a movie, and he leaned over and said, “Molly would love this movie.” I was so excited to hear what movie Cool Jared went to see that he thought I would like too, signifying that I was (somewhat) cool (occasionally) in his eyes.
With my eyebrows raised and my face lit with anticipation, I prepared to hear her answer.
“The Good Dinosaur,” she replied with sincerity. My shoulders dropped. An animated child’s movie? That’s what Jared thinks of me?
But he’s right. It’s a fact: I like when things wrap up with a bow. I don’t like loose ends.
Unfortunately, God uses loose ends more than He uses neatly wrapped packages.
I’ve been living in this apartment for six whole months now. It’s been a season of many loose ends. But I’m thankful that the Lord doesn’t allow all the ends to be loose at once – I am so grateful for the consistency of my job as a fifth-grade teacher and my lovely co-workers who have become dear friends, for my church family and the ways they love me, for stepping back into serving at my church after a two-year sabbatical, for some new life-giving relationships, and for the continued cultivation of relationships with the friends and family who have been such constants and encouragers to me. And, I’m grateful for you, dear Reader, who cares enough to read this post, to willingly follow my crazy life story, to pray for me on occasion, and to reach out to me with encouragement when you feel led. Truly, not all my ends are loose.
But there’s a new normal now, ya know? There’s a calmness. It’s a quietness I haven’t experienced since before two years ago on that September day when we received Tage’s diagnosis, and it all unraveled from there.
Now, there is no major drama, nothing that causes my heart to race, no thoughts that prevent sleep or fears that wake me up in the middle of the night.
Dare I say that it feels weird? That sometimes I almost miss the drama? There was purpose in the drama. There was a sense of unraveling anticipation, even if it was negative.
Now, it’s just…calm.
Adjusting to the quiet, slower pace has taken effort. I find that I no longer inhale the Bible the way my dog, Marty, inhales his ¾ cup of kibble every morning as if he can’t get it in him fast enough. I miss that feeling.
Or the way I would literally talk out loud to God all day long. He was never far from my thoughts. I miss that, too.
My counselor told me back in January and February, when I was in the darkest place, that even in old age I would look back on those winter months as some of the most precious moments with God in my lifetime. I knew it then when she said it, and I really know it now. Last winter and spring, I could say as David did when he was in the desert:
“O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1
But I’m no longer parched or weary. Don’t get me wrong – I am thankful to be out of the desert, and I praise the Lord for restoring me and for all He has brought me through! I am in a good, full, joyful place! In a word, I would describe this past summer as rejuvenating, and I’m on the other side of the pain now, a place I didn’t know existed last winter.
And now, as I turn around and look at the path I just walked, I can see the gifts that it brought. I see the closeness with the Lord I had in a way that only one who is parched and weary can experience. The Lord was so good to me.
And I see that that is behind me now.
I know I’m no longer in that desperate place, and there is a whisper, much like what Moses heard from the Lord as he wandered and struggled in the desert:
“You have circled this mountain long enough. Now, turn northward…” (Deuteronomy 2:3).
Eventually, it’s time to stop ruminating in the sad stuff.
That’s not to say we don’t forget it. No, we’ll never forget it. It has changed us. We will still think about it occasionally, but it doesn’t require our constant attention anymore, and that’s a good thing.
Yet, I find myself a little sad to move on. Despite all the grief, pain, and loss, the past two years brought me so much growth and faith and hope. This season feels like a good friend who saw me at my worst and made me better, and I don’t want to say goodbye.
But if I think about it, it wasn’t the season that impacted me so. It was my God. Jesus is whom I met more intimately in these years. It was He who sat with me as I cried, who pointed me to Hope found in the Bible, and who strengthened my heart with His wisdom and love as He gently pruned the parts of me that needed pruning. HE did that, not the season and the circumstances.
And as I’ve learned so intensely in these years: He’s never leaving me.
He just doesn’t have to carry me anymore.
We can just walk beside each other for a while now. He’s still right here, and His Spirit is still in me. As I look to the future beyond this pain, I am still not alone, no matter what’s next.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and will be in you.” –Jesus (John 14:16-17)
Have you been circling the same pain over and over? Do you sense it might be time to move on from the past, that memory, that emotion, that pain?
There is no reason to fear moving on. The Lord did good work there, and He will continue to work as we seek Him in prayer and in Scripture.
But why did God tell them to move northward? Why not east or west, or why not let them choose where He wanted them to go?
I wonder if it’s because He had a specific plan for Moses and the people even still. God is not willy-nilly in His plans for us. When He tells us it’s time to quit circling the past and the sad stuff, it’s because there’s something specific He wants us to do with what we just went through. He has a specific plan and direction in mind. The ends are not loose to Him.
I invite you to take time, as I am today, to honor what was, how we changed and grew, and then to make the choice to take a step northward.
We don’t know exactly where northward will take us (so there may yet be some loose ends from our perspective), but we know the Lord will go with us, and He already knows the plans He is weaving together with our perceived loose ends, and they are plans to prosper us and not to harm us. They are plans to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
So, I’m working on being okay with loose ends. With waiting. With wondering what’s next and not having the answer right now, today.
But in the meantime, if life seems like a bunch of loose ends and you just need something small (like a movie) to wrap up with a bow, Jared was right: The Good Dinosaur will not disappoint. Not only that, but the Pixar landscapes and “cinematography” will delight your senses, and your emotions will be stirred by a beautifully moving score.
So there, Jared.
Author’s Personal Note: Congratulations to Jared and Ellie who will tie the knot in 8 days! I love you both so much! Thanks for letting me be your buddy and third wheel. xo