I'm sure you've heard the expression that we all kind of long for and want happy endings now as a person of color who grew up poor and hungry, I knew pretty early on that the idea of something coming to an end, that my ending could be happy was perhaps a bit far fetched and was perhaps only reserved for a certain segment of society. So my belief of endings was that generally speaking, endings were painful. This way of thinking continued to inform me, up and until I reached a pivotal moment in my life when I had to ask myself if what I was experiencing as an end was perhaps an invitation.
This happened when I was in graduate school. And for those of you who may have the crazy idea of doing a PhD, I will tell you it is stress on your relationship. While I was writing my dissertation, almost making it through the fourth year of my PhD. One year left. My wife and I have this epic moment where we realize our marriage is not working or I should say she realized our marriage was not working and left.
Now I was a full time student and a full time pastor. We had been together at this point for 15 years. We started dating when we were kids. Is this going to be the end of something that I thought would last forever? After all, as a minister, I know that a part of the vows I read is "till death do us part." In the midst of this particular time in my life, I began to go through a understandably deep depression and my anxieties began to resurface about my fear of endings and and I thought, is this going to be the end of me? I began to find little pieces of myself that I had lost. I began to pray again
This was a conversation with God. I was going to argue with God. For those of you who have read the Bible, I was going to be like Job. We were going to have a conversation about what was happening in my life and this kind of contemplative prayer style became an ending of a former way of prayer and opened a new beginning. I began to find ways to talk to my wife in the midst of our separation and convinced her for us to go to therapy and then this therapist who is amazing, taught us so much about ourselves and we realized that perhaps we needed to allow our old marriage, our old ways, our old way of being together to die. Perhaps it did need to end.
I realized in these conversations with my wife, with my therapist, and with God that the end can be an invitation if you so choose to have it be. I put an end to this fake form of love, this Instagram kind of love where you just only want people to see the parts of you that you like and we began a new marriage built on love, trust, and compassion. Now I began to embrace a love that allowed me to be vulnerable, to show people that I have flaws, that I have made mistakes. I had to learn to love the parts of me that I don't like.
We had been trying to have a child for several years since we got back together to no avail. And in the midst of this, when we got back after stop trying, just focusing on perhaps going down the adoption route which we still plan to do. A month later, my wife comes downstairs and she tells me, she says, look at this. It's a pregnancy test and she is pregnant and I think "What?" This is impossible! This can't work! This is crazy! And what I realized, what I'm realizing right now, is my son was born on April and indeed I experienced another ending, an ending of our marriage as just a joint enterprise in the beginning of a new family endings, endings. They can be opportunities if you want them to be. So may you see your endings as invitations. May you experience your end as an open opportunity, a chance for you to envision and reshape, reclaim what your future might be. Amen.