When (really) good things end …

Coming to the end of a rich novel that accidentally changes your heart is like coming to the end of a part of your life that was good and beautiful and godly.

It feels wrong to have good things end.

Surely Eden starts right here and only continues until and through eternity, we might think. But having eternity written on our hearts means we have hues of heaven now but not its fullest expression.

In March 2021, I flew across the ocean to spend three days with a group of women—most of whom I didn’t know. We worshiped together, read His Word, belly laughed, and ate delicious food that we didn’t fix ourselves. We stayed up late and woke early and met with God … together.

It was strange—I expected almost nothing from this trip and was a bit reluctant to go (there is a high cost for the crew back home when Mama travels), yet elements of our time felt so holy I couldn’t give them words. He drew me away with these women and met each of us in unique ways there.

And we continued to meet every six months for three years. This “sisterhood” marked time for me. I didn’t know in April of 2021 that I was entering into one of the harder stretches of an already-hard season (in fact, when I sensed on that beach that God was leading me into a transition, I was quite sure the “hard” was lifting). Those twice-annual meetings were check-ins for my heart, alongside being bright lights in the middle of a long night for me. And these women made me laugh until I cried and pointed me to the One Bright Light.

In between, we prayed one another through new babies and new moves, weddings and funerals. I sent an SOS text for prayer during a crucible night for our family, and women dropped to their knees.

Things like this should go on forever, shouldn’t they?

When I was twenty, and there was talk of growing community in most of the circles I was in, the assumption was that we’d find our circle of friends early, be in the waiting room while the cord was cut, leave the back door unlocked for the exchange of kids from house to house, host one another’s kids’ bridal showers, and vacation together.

And while I’ve had one element of this with a handful of friends, another with a different set of friends, and a third with an even different set of friends, I still wonder if our youthfully-forged perception of this mythical never-broken-always-present-for-one-another community prevents us from seeing the God of good endings. (Or prevents us from seeing God as the end of all good things.)

This group of women was my cup of cold water in the desert: I needed laughter and tissues and healthy food and someone to sing the Word over me, and twice a year, I had that (amid dozens of hundreds of texts in between).

Why would we ever end something so good?

It’s a mystery, but it’s not my first.

I led a small group of eight women in my family room twice a month for almost six years. These women shared some of the hardest parts of their lives and showed up in each other’s dark hours … and then I felt led to end it. I felt a nudge from Him to shut the door at its emotional height.

It’s a mystery, but it’s not my first.

I was part of a small group we called the “fight club” (please erase any affiliation with the movie sharing the same title from your mind — we called it this because we would fight for one another’s hearts in God). Each of those women impacted how I saw God and myself. And … it ended.

This mystery of endings—each one different but communicating the same thing, like a bell on one long string—matures me.

While I have a few friends who have that rare but beautiful community of 30+ years of history — in which they really were in the waiting room on the hospital delivery floor of the same children for whom they hosted bridal showers — that is extremely rare. My 30 years of life and friendship have revealed that God can create those rare communities … and He also can bring to a close even the very best things.

God has “fixed all the boundaries of the earth … [he] made summer and winter.” (Psalm 74:17)

Even the long days of summer, when the creases between our toes always collect sand, and the sparkling covering of winter, when I don’t notice my weeds or dandelions and only see the blanket of white in my backyard, end. Year after year, they end.

As I look within, I’ve discovered that much of my fear of endings (as it relates to relational connections and the warmth of continuity in friendships and churches) is that I don’t trust that God will offer something out of the death I feel from an end.

If I’m honest, it’s a fear of being alone—and sometimes, it’s terrifying.

So, this free fall we experience when the best of things ends might actually be an opportunity to grow my trust in Him—the maker of endings and beginnings and the one who still knows my needs better than I know my own.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). I don’t learn this instinctually. I have to be taught by Him with my life.

As I said in The Gift of Limitations

He chooses the land’s end and where the rivulets form. He creates islands and inlets and peninsulas.

And sometimes, He ends the very best of things.

Said again: sometimes, he ends the very best of things.

{If you want to read more about endings — not just this current one I write about here, The Gift of Limitations is my favorite of all the books I’ve written … and endings, boundaries, and limits are what I write about more candidly inside those pages. The feedback I hear from y’all that have read it is blessing me deeply.}