I didn’t want to get started at all.
I told myself I wasn’t going to write again until after my busy season of work and travel this summer. I didn’t want the pressure of having to create. And I wanted the next thing I blasted into cyberspace to be meaningful. So I set out onward toward my adventures with my suitcase, my camera, and a notebook tucked in the outer pocket of my backpack within seconds of reach just in case something inspirational came along. The summer had taken me to the East Coast, Europe, and up and down the California coastline a few times. I had plenty of conversations. I met strangers. I snapped photos. I spent a lot of time talking to God over green tea and Italian sunsets. I saw the most beautiful cities in the world and ate the most delicious food (and probably enough pizza and gelato for the year… just kidding, there’s no such thing). But not once, did I pick up my black medium point Pilot pen and scribble a single line into the blank pages of my journal. The words, they didn’t come. And I kept feeling like I had nothing to share with the world—nothing inspirational or profound or beyond empowering.
Prior to the marathon of trips, I had written something flowery in an Instagram caption as a charge to the humans reading to stop chasing people, because I’m a millennial and that’s what we do these days. I had said something along the lines of how you don’t need to convince someone you are suitable for their world. Essentially, I think what I was getting at in plain speak is: You don’t need to try so hard to persuade someone to like you; hoping that you might mean something more to that person or group of people. But let’s be real, even though that statement can be stated in all sorts of varying circumstances like in a work context or friend context and viewed from different angles, I am still a chick and we all know that sometimes it really is about that guy. I remember that caption specifically because I had a friend who was in the Midwest at that time text me moments after I had published the post. She went on explaining her current situation, and how she just felt emotionally drained from all the mixed messages trying to play this internal game of “I like him, I don’t like him” and “I’m going back to California soon and he’s… here.” She went on talking about how it was all good and easy in the beginning, but now she’s at this place unsure if it’s time to get up, bolt out, and abandon ship questioning what the finish would look like.
It really is about the finish.
Relationships are a lot like that, I think. Friendships. Romantic ones. Familial ties. It’s all settles the same, and a lot of times it’s really about the finish. I think that’s why people don’t start investing in people or are afraid to give it a shot: Being afraid that someone won’t finish the book with you is a good enough reason to not want to pick up the novel and start reading. Or in my case, I never want to begin writing something knowing that I might not be able to cohesively say what I want to. Most the time, even now, I want to know for sure that I’m going to finish the piece. Align it all prettily on my website post page. Then click publish. After all, what if it’s a crappy ending? How disappointing would that turn out to be?
Endings can be unpredictable, but we can’t really afford to stop moving.
It’s normal: the doubts, the things we think are impossibilities. We are so fearful that we might start this journey and then end up being alone. But we can’t be so afraid that someone won’t want to finish with us that we end up just standing in one place.
I am betting we’ve all been fearful about the finish—that we might start the road surrounded but then end up alone halfway along. We are scared that we might not get chosen, or love will never find us, or loved ones will eventually leave us. Bottom line. We want someone to finish with us, and we want someone to stay.
This world really needs more people that finish. Everyone is so good at starting, but a whole of people are really terrible at finishing.
Maybe a little more than a year ago, I was in a very different place. It was four and half years of extremely deep friendship, with someone I can now look back and say I cared for and loved dearly. It was a series of events, which led up to this, but after several long conversations spanning over some months I remember sitting in that sushi restaurant knowing it was over. One night weeks later, I was sob journaling late in the night well into the morning, pages and pages of questions and thoughts and “why, God, why’s”. I don’t remember the exact wording I used because I had literally ripped and burned all the journals with any mention of his name in them as a means of detox. But I know I had written about first starting that journey. At that time, I had regretted everything about starting the journey. I wished I hadn’t because I thought the finish had been so sad and emotionally ugly. Turns out, that wasn’t the real finish at all.
Flash forward to a few months ago, and I receive a message from his now girlfriend. She had sent an apology about how things had gone down. I had received that message and really didn’t know what to do with it. This is what I ended up responding:
“Honestly, the whole thing was just a really sad situation all around. Sometimes, I still think that. And amidst the mess, I could probably sit here and write pages pinpointing what I wished would’ve happened, what I felt should’ve happened, all the things that had broken me, and so much more. There was pain in every way, no question about that. And it took a very long time for healing (as with all deeply invested relationships that come to an end). But I think you and I are both people who understand the process of refining—that God breaks and completely wrecks you, leaving you with nothing to hold onto but Him, and only Him. And with that course comes fruit and growth: it allows you to better understand yourself as well as the world; it forces you to break away from comfortable bubbles, and to recognize all that comes with being human. That is what I gained through that whole season. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m a strong believer that God is constantly building you and molding you to become the person that He’s intentionally created you to be. Sometimes, it just takes life to crash and burn for a moment for it to happen. And that is okay.”
It wasn’t a finish I had ever expected. But that. That was the real finish. And it was a good finish even if I had heave myself across the line.
I’ve been learning a lot about grieving and finishing these days. In the last week, some friends of mine had unexpectedly lost a family member because of senseless acts of drunk driving. More so, it has affected and broken hearts of people nearest and dearest to me. It’s been a solemn and reflective time, and it has been difficult to see the pain, the suffering, and the whole shabang that comes with loss, especially of someone who had learned how to love and finish the life race so well.
I keep whispering to myself:
We can never mourn the loss of losing people if we never fight to keep them.
And it is in moments of grieving, where God sheds the most light, pushing you to the finish.