As human beings we are hard wired with a desire to finish what we begin. We may not always stop and smell the roses (enjoy the journey) for the sake of getting to the finish line, but we all like the feeling of accomplishment that follows after we have completed a project or specific task.
We also like to have things figured out or at least have a basic understanding of how life works and
why we do the things we do. Yet the older we get and the more wisdom we amass suggests that there are many aspects to life that we will never fully understand.
From a spiritual standpoint, this reality is almost the same. We are told that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Having faith means believing that we can have a fulfilled life even in the midst of trials and tribulations. Having faith means believing that God causes all things to work together for good even when everything around us is sending us the opposite message.
We describe life in terms of “passages” and goals we have accomplished and experiences that we have lived through. Most of us crawled before we walked and graduated high school before going to college and so forth. As each new stage of life or adventure begins, we seek closure for that event or passage that has just ended and been checked off, so to speak.
Closure is partially defined for the sake of this writing as:
a. a feeling of finality or resolution, especially after a traumatic experience.
b. a sense of contentment experienced after such a resolution.
I have been thinking a lot about closure as it relates to my life the past several weeks. During this period of time I have come to the conclusion, correct or not, that some of life’s situations will never fully be given closure. In these types of circumstances most of us say that irregardless of what has taken place, we have nonetheless moved on with our lives. We are no longer waiting for a sense of closure but have for the most part determined that our forward movement is more important than holding on to the hope or desire that things will be fixed and/or figured out.
The focus of much of this wandering about is the church I left several years ago amidst some significant differences in vision and leadership issues that never were resolved. During this period of time I felt like I had a target on my back and was literally made to feel like I was a heretic for even questioning the direction of the church or the way it was being governed. I had a lot of company both past and present who had come to some of the same conclusions and ended up, much like them, on the side of the road, wounded and wondering what had happened.
However, my intent today is not to rehash history—rather it is my current attitude towards that organization which is at question.
We have all moved on and that is a fact—we say hello in public and act nice but time has not healed our wounds or provided complete and I would add “substantive” closure. I view this churches progress, and I assume growth, with mixed emotion and have to wonder if this is the same group that couldn’t wait to get rid of me and all the rest that had similar concerns. Did I stay too long? Yes by about two years. Does this add to the amount of my bitterness (almost to harsh a word) and my seeming inability to get past these events and simply “move on” with my life. Probably so. I had such great hopes for this organization to change course during my tenure as elder that I fooled myself into thinking that things were really changing when in fact they were not.
Perhaps I am writing this in order to let these words soak in and see where they lead me. I don’t want to feel this way about this group for the rest of my life. I would like a knock on my door and to hear the words we are sorry about the way we treated you coming across the threshold. But they have moved on and that scenario is highly unlikely.
In the process of writing this I have to ask myself the question that is becoming more apparent to me: Does true forgiveness bring real closure? And indeed, there have been times in the past where I thought I did just that only to become aware of this groups activities and feel that sense of betrayal rise up in me and wonder why I haven’t been able to move on.
And maybe it is as simple as that. As simple as taking 6 big boxes of books to a used book store and only getting $11.50 in-store credit for what you thought was worth hundreds. You say thanks, leave them at the door and be glad that they are not taking up anymore space in your life. Besides—you traded them in in order to make room for that grand piano. Just think of all the music and playing time that is coming your way.
Enjoy your ride today: keep it simple and straight forward.