“I am glad it is over,” my friend told me two days after Christmas.
Her reasons included all the hectic activities from potlucks to shopping to being with relatives. I just nodded. However, I thought it’s too bad she didn’t enjoy Christmas. I’m sure she enjoyed some of it, but her expression seemed to say it was one big hassle from beginning to end. She’s happy to get back to her normal routine.
I thought December went far too quickly. I enjoyed looking at the lights and decorations, pondering the mystery of Christ’s birth and the meaning of the Incarnation. It is a wonderful time of the year and I’d like to have slowed down time so I could savor it longer.
Most of us go through periods in our lives we wish could just be over. Sickness, mourning, financial difficulties, even less serious things, like exercise, all cause us to want the pain to end. At the end of one of my workouts, one enjoyable stretch position puts me on the floor, on my knees with my arms extended. The workout leader says: “You can pray now —thank God it’s over!” I always come back with, “Thank God I can still do this!”
I’m learning not to wish away even the difficult parts of life. I don’t enjoy pain or problems, it’s just that coming out on the other side feels so good. We can look back to see lessons learned and how it has worked for our good. Granted, some problems don’t go away. Remember the song that says: “If that’s all there is, my friend, then let’s keep dancing”? “Let’s break out the booze and have a ball, if that’s all there is.” Certain difficulties and hurts won’t be solved in this life, so it’s good to remember this isn’t all there is. A time is coming when God will wipe away the tears and make everything right.
Gratitude and hope can help us get through life without wishing the bad parts away. Being thankful, even in and through the hard parts, makes life richer and stronger. Remembering the hope we have in Christ gives us a reason to keep going, to get through the pain and not let it break us. One of my favorite movie lines is from Steel Magnolias: “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” We grow in and through the trials. Our faith and trust in God are strengthened. We look forward even more to the new heaven and new earth.
As a child, when I wanted something to be over, my mom always told me not to wish my life away. Now I’m at the age I’d love to have back some of the time I so ungratefully wished away.
How often do you wish for things to end? Are you wishing your life away or enjoying the ride? Perhaps we should wait to say, “Thank God it’s over!” until the very end, when we cross the finish line and win the race.
Tammy Tkach, 2012