The Movie Isn’t Over

Ever feel like a failure?

Some days our mistakes wail at us like an air-raid, and we’re left wondering how to recover.

If you’re there, friend, keep reading.

Because that’s when this story hits afresh.

a reprint from my original Kenosha News “My Turn” column a few years back… 

I had a birthday. (Notice I didn’t say “celebrated” one.)

My 40th. Much harder than I expected.

Problem was, I’d had a goal. A dream. Something I wanted to do by that momentous day.

I missed it. Just. Came SO close. But you know what they say—only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades. This was neither.

I’d worked hard for an entire year to make that goal. And the year before that. In the middle of kids and soccer and instruments and school, I carved out time. And more time. But it wasn’t enough.

My family was supportive, encouraging me, willing to let me spend time away from home, sitting at Starbucks with my computer and my tea. (Place knows me well—they’d have my drink waiting before I had my car in park.) And there’s the sweetest-ever teacher friend who cheered me each step of the way—when she wasn’t yelling at me to go work on it. But other than that, I don’t think most people understood. “Can’t you just do it for next year?” To them, it was only a hobby, an extra. Something most couldn’t relate to.

But to me, it was a dream—that didn’t come true.

When I realized a few weeks before that I wasn’t going to make it, I talked myself through it, came up with other possibilities, thought I’d be okay.

I wasn’t. The day came, the day went. The next day, somehow my age came up, and my heart dropped, plummeting with the realization of failure. “Failure at 40.” The phrase ran through my head for a week, and then some.

Looking around, reading the news, listening to conversations, I have a feeling, while many might not understand my own lost dream, there are more than a few personal lost dreams around the country.

So what do we do?

Well, in the words of the game, “Phone-a-Friend.” And that’s just what I did. After all, she was older than me. Hit that horrible 40 a whole two months before I did.

I called. And cried. And she listened, like a good friend. And then (also like a good friend) told me what I’d told her months before.

“The movie isn’t over.”

How had I forgotten?

Around her birthday, she’d called me, crying, disappointed. She’d trained for a race—a race in which she’d hoped to do so well. Instead, she was injured. Not only did she not meet her own goal—but her rival rubbed a winning score in her face. What now?

“The movie isn’t over.”

When I comforted her with the phrase, it shone clear in my mind: An hour into the movie—the heroine has just had a crushing blow. She sobs, sitting in a corner, face buried in her knees, probably with a dramatic fist pounding pavement. Then someone comes along—that good friend—pulls her up, sets her on her feet, puts steel in her gaze. She tries again…and wins. Resoundingly. Only then would you see, “The End.”

“You’re not done,” I’d told her. “You’re only in the middle. The movie isn’t over.”

How quickly I’d forgotten. Ah, it’s so much easier to be wise when it isn’t your problem.

And that’s why we have friends.

He Knows the Plans He has for Us!
He Knows the Plans He has for Us!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Future. Hope. “The movie isn’t over.”

So, what now? Time to regroup. Re-evaluate. Get up off the floor and try again. Forget “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Instead, reach out for the hand that can help.

Time to take my own advice. Because all my “failure at 40” will do is bring “still failing at 41.” And soon, rather than an unfinished aspiration, I’d be holding nothing but an empty pipedream and goofy clichés.

Another verse, Philippians 3:13: Forgetting what lies behind, and reaching forward to what lies ahead. It’s what makes the blockbuster. What makes us remember the story. And grow from it. We all expect the middle of the movie to have setbacks, but the story doesn’t end until we find the hope!

For that, we must finish well.

So, Scene 40, Take Two: It’s Life…Action…Roll ’em…

See you at the final credits!

All Bible verses are taken from the NASB translation.

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5 thoughts on “The Movie Isn’t Over”

  1. Hala Daghfal

    Praise the Lord that life is not about ‘me’ but about Him. I do not have to succeed or win. As long as I am in His will and seeking to make Him known, I do not need to have my dreams come true. He must have the preeminence. I might die with out meeting my dreams or aspirations. Through Jesus’ victory on Calvary, I am more than conqueror. I must die so that He may be glorified, because He had died that I may live.
    This article is so well written that it demands attention. May the Name of Jesus be glorified in all your writings.
    Love to hear from you and to read your fine and wonderful literary work. May the Lord continue to bless.

    1. And yet, while we live to glorify Him, isn’t it fascinating that He has given us desires for our hearts…and gifts and talents and abilities…things unique to each one of us that help us run the race for Him? That bring glory to Him and serve His body? Things don’t always come to fruition in our time table, but–in Him–He “establishes the work of our hands.” And, like with Joseph’s dreams, knows just the right time to bring them to fruition. Ahh, it’s wonderful to have Him as the director, writer, and producer of my movie! 🙂

  2. Pingback: When God Closes a Door AND the Windows |

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