The Unfinished


In the eighth grade, I started a book that I could not bring myself to finish. It bored me and I set it aside. There was nothing wrong with the book; I just wasn’t feeling it. I really wanted to like it and I kept reading it in hopes of it getting better. But about halfway through, I stopped. I shared this with my English teacher and she said, “Life is too short to read a book you don’t enjoy. There are too many good ones.” However, it is not in my nature to leave books unfinished, in fact it is so rare that I can remember when it happens.

On the Myers-Briggs Test, I usually score as a very high J. I like to check things off a to-do list. Unresolved conflict nags at me. I long to complete tasks before starting something new. Closure is the name of my game. Sixty days into my job, I confessed to my boss that my new position felt very unnatural to me at times because I don’t thrive on doing a hundred things at once. I like to start and complete one thing. In the 18 months since then, my job has greatly enhanced my ability to work on lots of things all at the same time. You can’t work as an administrative assistant at a small business without learning the art of juggling a hundred things over the course of one day, and maybe not quite completing each of them. Some days my coveted to do list and I are worst enemies because nothing is done enough to cross off. The unfinished feels a little less unsettling. Case in point, there are currently four books on my nightstand; I’m at least 100 pages into each of them.

I am not proud to be seemingly unable to finish reading Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, A Long Walk to Freedom, but I don’t feel shame about it either. I just haven’t quite reached the end. I intend to keep reading; I want to put it on my bookshelf of “Books Read in 2015.” It just isn’t there yet. Neither are the other three other books sitting right next to my bed.

I often write about how has God been faithful when I have stayed in difficult seasons. He is. He will continue to be. There are going to be times when leaving something unfinished is disobedient, but staying in something that God is calling you out of is also disobedient. Walking away before it’s over does not always make you a quitter.

I am growing more comfortable with the unfinished, with allowing God to press pause on something so I can switch gears to something else. It’s as if I’ve quit trying to solve the formula of God’s plan for my life and I’m letting it ebb and flow. The equation isn’t always going to balance. There isn’t always a beginning and an end to the storylines, and some are abandoned before you even get to the good part. Some things are good for a season and then they’re not, so we’re forced to abandon them and to leave them unfinished.

Leaving something unfinished isn’t always a discipline issue, as I used to believe. With unfinished stories, there are just parts that are not yet written. Some will complete themselves with time and others will not. There’s beauty in the unfinished and incomplete.

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