happily ever after

photo of person flipping book page

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Have you ever waited for something?

Maybe this is a ridiculous question because of course, our days are filled with waiting. We wait for the dryer to buzz to begin folding clothes. We wait at stoplights and in rooms designed for this sole purpose.  We wait for results and answers and solutions.

But I am referring to the big and exciting category of waiting, like a trip or a Broadway show. Maybe it’s to hold the keys to unlock a new home or to land a dream job. Or repeatedly checking the mailbox for tickets to watch a favorite team or band and then waiting to take an assigned seat.

For me, it was a long-awaited book. I know, perhaps I need to work on larger dreams. But in my opinion, books are a reason to celebrate.

I had been waiting to get my hands on the latest book by an author whose debut novel had consumed a few days of my summer eight years ago. I couldn’t contain my anticipation to experience the next world she would conjure from the weavings of her imagination.

Once the book was in my hands, I quickly gazed at the beautiful dust jacket and then removed its folds to expose what laid beneath, black woven fabric embossed with gold letters and designs. I fanned the pages, careful not to reveal any clues and marveled at the intricate care and thought behind the book’s assembly. Newly released hardcover books can feel like an investment but I immediately felt the worth of this book, a gift.

It would be a safe bet to envision my next scene, sitting in my favorite chair with the book spread over my lap and a cup of tea by my side. However, this particular time, your wager would be wrong.

I finished gushing and placed the book next to my chair and later in the evening, I took it downstairs to my to-be-read shelf.  I visited this book often as I grabbed any other book but it from my shelf in the following weeks. 

Somehow the build-up in my mind about this book felt paralyzing. What if this book wasn’t all I had hoped it would be? I mean, what if I didn’t even like it? 

When I finally took the book off the shelf at the beginning of February, my fears weren’t relieved. The plot was slower developing than I anticipated and at times, I was confused. I couldn’t immediately figure out what was happening or how certain characters connected or were they? I was interested but I didn’t feel immersed in the book. I was impatiently waiting for an instant pay-off and craving fore-knowledge of an enjoyable reading experience.

The book is just shy of 500 pages and at nearly 200 pages in, I realized, I had two choices. I could abandon the book or slow down and trust the author. 

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I have grown accustomed to holding my breath.

Sometimes I am waiting to be thrilled and other times to be disappointed. 

I create scenarios in my mind that rarely materialize.

In fact, when I spend an inordinate amount of time dwelling on these possibilities within any given day, I neglect to sink into actually living within the designed mystery of each 24 hours.

I want the revelation of the future or the unraveling of an ending in advance and this mindset shields my eyes from the present. 

I want to know how my life and the lives of the people I love turns out. 

Perhaps this is merely an introvert’s struggle but, I have secretly longed for parties or gatherings to be over in order to know a good time was had. Did I find someone to talk to and avoid feeling awkward? Did my presence matter? This is a guarded way of living because it robs me from deeply inhabiting each moment or to allow my mind and soul to be anchored to what is before my eyes, not in a rearview mirror. It’s my grasping to control when it was never in my job description.

I only get to live the pages titled today. If I am persistently looking for the sentence,“…and they lived happily ever after”, I will miss all the preceding paragraphs. I won’t be able to comprehend the ending without the context of beginnings and middles. 

As a daily practice, I open the book of my life and lay it open before the Author and Finisher of my days, letting Him fan the pages to my occupied place. I watch as he indents paragraphs and scribes long chapters, adding every necessary comma and period. He tenderly whispers that I might not always understand how my life stacks up until I have inhabited every section of my life, maybe not until I reach the other side.  I unclench my fists to allow me to smooth each wrinkled page of this precious mysterious life I have been given.  To think, I am given a new story every day scribbled with bits of wonder in characters woven in and through the pages. 

I slow down and trust the Author.

Oh, how did my long-awaited book end? 

I will let you know.

I am still savoring it.