When The End Feels Like The Beginning
Throughout my career as a pastor I've had more than one occasion when I've had people who sought my counsel when it came to struggles they were having with grief, difficult decisions, relationship issues, addiction, bitterness, anger, abuse and more.
There is one thing that people seem to want to know more than anything else, and it comes in the form of an often unspoken question that hovers like a shroud over them: "Why does it take so long?"
Why does it take so long to work out my grief?
Why does it take so long to get over that betrayal?
Why does it take so long to feel alive again after abuse?
Why does it take so long to be well after being addicted?
I never have really good answers when it comes to that kind of thing. "Everyone is different," I'll tell them. "You have to do this at your pace," I'll say.
Or I might share that even though it might feel like a long time to them... they are actually making progress.
It's easy to say things like that when it isn't you going through the struggle. And God knows, when I've had to deal with my own suffering, I've wondered the same things, asked the same questions.
I recently read an amazing poem by Tiffany Aurora, who reflects on how her life changed when she was able to walk away from an abusive, destructive, religious community. She writes:
Someone once asked meI was thinking today about a moment in the ministry of Jesus where a number of his disciples walked away after he told them how challenging it would be to step further into deep transformation.
how they would know
that the healing
was starting to take root
I told them,
"When THE END--
finally feels like the beginning."
He turned to the ones who stayed, and asked: "Are you going to leave, too?"
The Apostle Peter spoke up and said, "Where would we go, Teacher? You have the words of life."
Sometimes you just have to keep walking, pushing through your pain, finding your way when you feel lost, being patient when it feels like it's taking forever to find your way.
But if you trust the One who has the words of life for you and for all the world... You will eventually reach a point that feels like a beginning, and will know that you have reached the end of your long road to recovery.
May this be so for you today and every day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you know and always. Amen.