“When God is going to do something wonderful, He or She always starts with a hardship; when God is going to do something amazing, He or She starts with an impossibility.” – Anne Lamott
This past weekend, I psyched myself up for a solo camping trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I wanted to spend my weekend lying on the beach, getting a tan, eating some seafood and enjoying everything the east coast has to offer. It’s not everyday this west coast girl gets to frolic around the Atlantic! However, my trip did not go as planned! I was hot, miserable, and now have a thousand mosquito bites to prove how terrible it was. Needless to say, I begrudgingly came home early.
My time was not what I had planned. However, while I was at the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, I stumbled on a WWII cemetery for two British Navy officers lost at sea. Their bodies were found in the Atlantic and buried on a small plot of land on the side of the road. Being the spontaneous person I am (aka, I was bored), and a huge history buff, I just had to pull over.
I walked over to the gravesite, the smallest of cemeteries, and read the gravestones for these two men. The first, an unknown soldier in the Royal Navy. The second, a young soldier named Michael Cairns, 28 years old.
As I stood, reading their names over and over, realizing how young these men were, a sudden wave of sorrow washed over me and I began to cry. I mourned the lives of these two men, both of which ended abruptly.
Their death was an unresolved ending. Loved ones were left hoping, waiting for their return, yet they never made it home. This is a tragedy and a loss for those who cared for these men. Their lives should be mourned, albeit years after their death by an unknown friend.
This moment triggered something in me that I couldn’t quite explain. I allowed tears to run down my cheeks and grieved for their unresolved ending, yet I think I was also grieving all the unresolved endings I had experienced in my life.
We all strive for resolution and closure. Our deepest desire is to end well. We move away, we quit jobs, we break up, and we mourn loved ones who have died. We end chapters in our story. Yet, we all yearn for those endings to be celebrated. We have goodbye parties, we sign “Good Luck!” cards, we seek closure and have that final conversation with someone we once loved, and we memorialize the life of those who have passed.
How do you sit with unresolved endings? What feelings are stirred in you when someone vanishes from your life, without resolution and without a “Goodbye?”
I think about the disciples on Saturday morning. Some of these men and women spent years with Jesus, following Him, dining with Him, investing in His story as they watched Him heal, speak words of wisdom and revelation, and multiply fish and loaves to feed thousands. Yet, it’s Saturday and Jesus has died. This was the man who was supposed to bring peace and freedom. This was the man who was supposed to save the world.
Death wasn’t part of the plan. Jesus’ death was the ultimate unresolved ending.
I don’t sit well in the space between death and resurrection. The liminal place of waiting for resolution is not familiar to me, nor do I enjoy the tension and anxiety I feel when I find myself in it. However, this is where I often find myself. Actually, this is where I find myself as I write — stuck in Saturday.
This time, however, I have surprised myself with how much I am actually enjoying the discomfort of the “not yet” I find myself. God has been clear with me, “Kelsey, it’s not time yet. Wait.”
Waiting is not a muscle I flex very often. It’s painful, confusing, and uncomfortable, yet the hope of Sunday gives me peace that passes all understanding. The hope of Sunday, the hope I have in my Saturday Savior, is my refuge and my strength.
That said, there are many moments of anguish and frustration. There are times when all I can do is I cry and scream out to God, asking Him to remove the pain, to take away desire, to skip ahead to the end of the chapter, to provide some sort of resolution. There are mornings when I wake up weeping, sobbing as I mourn what has yet to come. There are days when all I want to do is lie in bed, binge on Netflix and Chinese take-out, and avoid the world (and my overwhelming emotions). Sometimes, all I can do is get angry and blame God for putting me through hell, cursing Him, and lamenting. This is part of the process and makes hope so much sweeter, and an essential piece to holding an unresolved ending.
Sunday is coming.
This is not the end.
Seeds have been planted and God is asking me to wait for the harvest.
There are some endings that will never be resolved. Some people will leave and never come back. Jobs will end. Diplomas given. Endings will end, regardless of what “Goodbyes” we fail to say. These unresolved endings should be grieved and mourned.
However, some endings aren’t endings at all…they’re the beginning of something new, something beautiful. After all, Saturday wasn’t the end of the story.