Following the Plot

Endings to stories are the best part. You’ve been investing yourself for 200 pages, learning all about the characters’ emotions, relationships, and problems. You are flipping white pages in a blur to find out who dies, who marries, who accomplishes the unexpected.

I handle the endings to stories, including my own, in two distinctly different manners. Most of the time, I cheat. I peek. I flip to the end about halfway through just to check my predictions. I cannot possibly wait to know what plot twists and surprises the author has penned. I do this in my own life too. I want to know the ending before I invest too much in the middle. The middle is messy, and hard, and I don’t have the patience or faith to wait to see what happens to the character, particularly when the character is me.

I’m in the middle right now. Nick has begun a new partnership. The beginning was easy. There was a clear need, a clear vision, and even surprisingly quick contracts for work. Beginnings are exciting, full of the dreams of what is to come. But now, we are past the vision and in the reality. In reality, Nick has been in the Chicago area every week this month, and it is not over. The kids are sad, I have become an insomniac, and I haven’t learned to fix much on my own.  I would love to skip to the end, to see what financial gains this business might bring, to see Nick at home every day, to not feel the wondering of potential success or failure.

Still, life does not work that way. The wondering keeps us faithful to the task set before us. It commits us to stick with the plot line. It ensures that we invest it all in the hopes that the end will be an explosive surprise.

While I’m waiting for this ending, and all the other endings that come with a full life (whether my girls will mesh with their assigned teachers, whether my classes will be studious or unruly, whether….whether…whether…), I need to try to enjoy the middle. There have been day trips to the beach with my girls, quiet evenings to read, and special time with grandparents to help subdue the loneliness of missing daddy. Yes, the middle is hard. The Writer has to work to keep our interest, to move the plot, to avoid holes in the story. If the ending is the explosion, the middle is the wick. It must stay lit from the beginning spark all the way through.

Sometimes I read novels this way. I follow the spark. I invest in the mess of the middle. I wonder and I worry until I can see what is to come. And in doing so, I build my own curiosity. I find faith to believe that the ending, although potentially unexpected, will fulfill all the plot hopes I had along the way.  And almost every time the surprise is worth the wait. I close the book fulfilled. I admire the Writer’s insightful development all the way through to the last word.

I must remember the reward of the waiting when I want to skip to the end. I repeat an often recalled verse from Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  I settle into the plot, and when my impatience begins flipping faster than I can follow, I stop, hold back, and focus on the beautifully crafted details that the Author has penned for me in this moment.

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