Eight years ago, I got the call.
Mom had cancer.
She embraced with tears and grace the path set before her, and I soon developed a deep distaste for its description as a journey. I didn’t want to go on that journey, and wanted to refuse its suffering.
What began as my own personal journal to name and process the events and thoughts of those days soon wove themselves together as chapters of a book. Mom’s faith and strength were tempered in her trial and made fierce. Like a shimmering sword raised in battle, she glinted God’s goodness into that dark night. It was a stunning, faith-building battle to witness. I was built up by the watching. For that reason, for the building up of others, she agreed to my publishing the story so others could likewise be encouraged, and God could be honored in the telling.
But there was a problem.
Seven years after that diagnosis, she passed away. That was last February.
Now, as I write the closing chapters to that book, I am unsure how to write its unhappy ending in a way that leaves us inspired, encouraged, and edified.
What potential Mom’s absence has offered us by way of renewal or reinvention has not been grabbed hold of by all. The unity Mom always sought, and peace she always worked so hard to maintain, has crumbled and fallen away. She was the hub in the wheel, and each family member the spokes who now lie scattered, and unwilling to change our state of separateness. I had hoped for more, though I can’t imagine what. Wholeness, I suppose. Mass redemption. Restoration to God and to each other.
What began years ago with a promise of restoration has remained unfulfilled thus far. Instead, things have become much worse. Discord has increased. There is hatred and manipulation, broken relationship, gossip, and many of the other terrible things that happen when we walk apart from the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5)
While Mom’s time here is done and her interactions with us complete, the effects of her impact continues to unfold. We still move forward, and sometimes that part of the story is unpleasant. Which is where I stand, paused and wondering how to close it. After all, a good story has a happy ending, doesn’t it? At the moment, this story doesn’t have one. Yet.
Even so, the book must end. At the moment, this ongoing story stops short, leaving only frayed edges. If it were a blanket, it would be too short, the inspiring image or quote woven into it would be incomplete and end on the wrong word, and no one would buy or use the ugly thing. The good news though, is that the Weaver is not done. My pages may end, but His work does not. And He will bring it to completion in His perfect way and time. In that, I trust.
I see it this way; whatever happens, pleasant, difficult, traumatic, or bountiful, it puts me to a decision every time, in every instance; will I trust God more or will I trust Him less?
My desire is to always, always trust Him more. So, when struggle comes, that is the opportunity to practice in the pain. As I do, I learn much and grow immensely in character and faith, perhaps also becoming a glinting sword in darkness.
After much prayer about how to share all the parts of the story, I will end it with glimpses of God’s work in difficult circumstances; a counting of blessings, a striving for the joy set before us. It seems a poetic end to the story, when that is exactly how Mom thrived in her trial. Indeed, it’s how James did. And Paul did. And Jesus did. I will now practice what I witnessed.
If you’re living a story with an unhappy ending (so far), or find yourself in a dark or troubled time, I hope you are encouraged, as I am, by this:
Light shines brightest in darkness. A hero is discovered in angst and trouble and need. In my trouble and need, He absolutely deepened my experience of Him as my hero and light and rescue, and my faith is stronger as a result, and unshakeable. For that, I am deeply thankful.
Kimberly Dawn Rempel helps authors and entrepreneurs build their business and their faith through 1:1 coaching, editing, and book marketing. Click here to Download her free guide, 14 Ways to Leverage Your Book or join her Facebook Group, Marketing-Savvy Authorpreneurs HERE.