To Be Continued…

Endings are always difficult.

The ending of a story is always the hardest part to write. In my screenwriting classes, I was always told, “the ending must always be inevitable, but not predictable.” The ending should always leave the reader or viewer satisfied, but they should never know how it ends, before it happens.

We all want to know what happens at the end. Whether it is a book, or movie, or TV show, we always want to know how it ends. That desire to see how the tension that is built up from the beginning resolves itself; that is the appeal of a great story.

Many of us have different methods of reaching the end. Some people like to slowly enjoy the story and take it in little by little and savor the tension. Some people (me) can’t stand the tension and rush through the story without stopping so that the tension is resolved in a satisfying way. Some people are heathens who read the Sparknotes version of a story or watch shows in fast forward ignoring all the carefully scripted dialogue and intense musical backgrounds that give a scene depth, complexity and emotion.

I’m not going to call anyone out, but 10% of our team is like this. It hurts me.

But in the end, we all find out the end of the story. Sometimes the endings are happy and joyful. Other times, the endings are tragic and heart-wrenching. But for almost all good stories, the ending is bittersweet. On the one hand, the ending is satisfying and leaves us feeling good inside, but on the other hand, the ending signifies the end of a story that we have invested ourselves in.

When this fall tour started, coming out of Hong Kong, I was really excited to see how our relationships with one another grew as we continued to strive together in our mission of sharing the Gospel in the states after the trial by fire of Hong Kong tour.

Week one passed by, and I was on fire for these guys. I couldn’t imagine anywhere else I would rather be than with them. I was so happy to be touring with such awesome people.

But soon, I lost that fire. I no longer wanted to be a part of the team. I was experiencing pain because of the failures and shortcomings of my teammates and I didn’t want to feel victim of that anymore. The more hurt that I felt because of them, the more I shut myself away, refusing to let them get to me. But no matter what I did, they would be able to get past my defenses and I’d be left feeling hurt and angry.

After some time, I stopped treating my teammates like friends. I became friendly enough not to arouse suspicion, but I did not open myself up anymore to be disappointed. I thought to myself, if I remain friendly, then I can continue this ministry effectively and remain a solid team with them without getting hurt. I will make sure we can still effectively share the Gospel, but these people are no longer my friends and I refuse to stick out my neck for them again. In effect, I had given up on them.

ICOM (International Conference On Missions) was a breath of fresh air to me. I got to interact at length with people who were not on my team and members of CTI staff came down to Peoria, IL to help us with recruiting. I had a good conversation with one of them where I spilled all of my feelings of anger and frustration towards my team and how I planned to deal with it. They left me with a story and piece of scripture that effectively said, giving up on broken people is effectively becoming responsible for their damnation.

Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. – Ezekiel 3:20

Truth be told, even after that conversation, I found myself tired of the team dynamic that I had witnessed. I counted the days until our tour was over so that I could go home and remove myself from this team and be refreshed again with new yet familiar faces.

Even so, I could not ignore the fact that I still loved these guys. As much as I am excited to leave for home, I know that I will miss these people who I poured myself into and who has poured themselves into me over the past few months. These people who have been my brothers and sisters whom I have lived with, sang with, prayed with, agonized with, fought with, for each day of these tours.

So in the end, the end of this tour is a bittersweet moment for me as we all split apart and go home to our corners of the continent.

Except, after our two week break from each other, we will be coming back together again for a 10 week tour. So it isn’t really the end. Oops. I’ve never really been good with endings. So I guess a better way of ending this would really be…