What is the part of the story that most readers fear/enjoy most? That’s right: the end. Sometimes, the end of the story is satisfying, with all the ends tied up in a way that makes sense and gives a feeling of closure to the tale. Sometimes, the ending leaves us wanting to tear our hair out and going, “WTH did you just DO?!” But something that all of us realize throughout the reading of the book, – the ones that are the most impactful, the most life-changing – is that it’s not the end until the end. So when the characters, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine in Alison Weir’s Captive Queen, are going through hell, we as the readers know that it’s not the end, not yet. So we keep reading. We don’t just stop, because the bad times are not the end of the story.
That was the sentence with which I began my week: Bad times or wrong things are not the end of the story. I was sitting in church, this past Sunday, letting my brain and heart work back over the past few weeks, searching the Bible for guidance and encouragement. Honestly, I felt a bit downcast and distraught. But, then, during open worship, a member of our church stood and said something extraordinary that has stuck with me all week. She said that she was so thankful that the bad times or the wrong things that happen to us are not the end of the story. We don’t have to give up because we aren’t at the end yet and we can trust God to carry us through. And that lodged itself in my heart and has stuck there all week. I emailed her that evening to tell her thank you for sharing, that what she said what just what my heart needed to hear, to be reminded of.
A few days later, the above picture showed up in my Facebook newsfeed, posted by a friend. I couldn’t help but smile and say to myself, “I guess this is my theme this week. Bad times are not the end of the story.” And I found myself using that phrase over and over again throughout the week in attempts to encourage others who have been having a rough time. It’s not the end of the story. You’re not done in yet. Just hold on, hang on. Just a few more pages, a few more chapters. The story is not done. Choose each day to end the story as well as you can. End well. That is another phrase that kept popping up in my life this week. The story is not done, you can choose how the next chapter looks. Yes, there will be things in our lives that throw us for a loop, hurt our hearts, and oppress our minds. But we can still choose to write the next pages well, even if it is just in little ways – choosing to give a smile, asking someone else how they are doing and trying to give an encouraging word, spending some time in the sunshine. Little things, day-by-day choices, words on the page. Words add up to sentences, sentences to pages. Bad times are not the end of the story. Keep going. It’s not the end. Not yet.