Thursday, November 10, 2011

There and Back Again - Unfinished

It's late in the day to be starting a blog post. I have not felt well and each time I have thought of writing, something in me just recoils. I don't know if I am experiencing rebelliousness or my attitude problems about other things are creeping into my writing. I would have just let it go, but I keep remembering that I had already started the process for There and Back Again, and if I did not write, it would be one more thing unfinished.

I might as well confess: I am royalty amongst The Unfinishers. There is so much that is unfinished in my life. Without even spending much time to inventory, I can think of these unfinished things:

...reading. I have stacks of books that I have started reading and never finished. Sometimes the author gets me into a section that seems to be boggy and I don't ever find the motivation to get past it. Other times the writer starts off a firestorm of thoughts in me that rage off in every direction. And in following these thoughts as they burn out of control, I never remember to come back to the firestarter. I might end up a totally different person because of just a few sentences. What transformation am I missing by not finishing the author's complete thought?

...craft projects. I have boxes of unfinished craft projects. Often times I have seen someone else doing this craft and thought that I could do it too. Then I look at the supplies and realize that I don't have the slightest clue where to start. Maybe I just like buying craft supplies? Other times I will start a project and realize that it is not turning out the way I thought it would. I hardly ever feel like I have the creativity to rescue a piece like this and turn it into something good outside of the original vision. But I don't seem to be able to let it go. So it sits and waits for attention I will probably never give it.

...Beth Moore Bible studies. These studies seem to always be 10-12 weeks long. Even if I am going strong and actually doing the homework, there always seems to be something in my schedule that interrupts. And it is hard to get me to go back once I have missed. I always seem to end up in studies with women who are in other groups together - small group, Moms' group, etc. Nobody from other groups I am in goes to these studies, so I have no partner or group pulling me back in. But I don't want to get rid of the workbook. Maybe "one day" I will decide to spend the extra money to watch the remaining sessions online and finish it on my own. Or maybe one day I will use the pages from these workbooks in a craft project. 

...journals. I have more journals than I can count - those pretty hardbound journals that make you think that you have enough pretty thoughts to fill the whole thing. I do not have enough flowery, lovely thoughts to fill more than a page or two. So I quit journaling. I never liked journaling anyway, but those pretty books are so inspiring, right? Not. Now I have all these books. Do I rip out the used pages and donate the rest of the book to Goodwill? What about the lovely journals that have a personal inscription from the friend who gave it to me? Am I not honor-bound to keep these, even though I ran out of profound things to say about friendship after page 3.5 (using big, loopy handwriting)?

...writing projects. Related in a small way to journaling. It is writing. But this writing is work that has an intended audience other than myself and future generations wondering about their crazy relative's thoughts. My blog post list is starting to show a rather large numbers of "drafts". Many of these would be good pieces. However, I get distracted and move on to something new.

...exercise plans. I never did finish my 10 or 12 sessions with the really nice trainer. No, he doesn't give refunds, but I can come use those sessions any time. The recumbent exercise bike my husband found at a garage sale has moved to the garage. One or two exercise VHS tapes are still in the cabinet. 

...television series. The DVR is full of recordings of series that I started but have not finished watching. I get busy and forget. Sometimes I can see that my favored outcome is not in the plot line and I just stop giving it my attention. This might be somewhat differently motivated than the other things. What good is entertainment if it does not entertain you in your preferred fashion? Either way, Hubby is going to force me to choose soon. He has a personal relationship with our DVR and my recordings are clogging up the system.

...letters and emails to friends. The reason I cannot keep my inbox cleaned out is because I am saving some emails for when I have "enough time" to go back and answer properly. Being a lover of handwriting, I also have several letters or cards that I have started and had to put down for one reason or another. I am not sure how my friends and family would react to receiving a letter that was finished two years after it was started. 

I have not even touched on the really hard "inside" work that needs finishing. The bad habit I was going to take to God so that He can release me from it. The continued prayers I promised by stopped after about a week. The last moral inventory that I started. The armor of God that looks nice but that I have yet to truly put on (and I wonder why I keep getting wounded in "battle"). I have attitudes towards my marriage and family that need changing, but I keep telling myself that I can think my way into right acting instead of acting my way into right thinking. So I think about changing... and then I stop.

I have considered recently telling all of these things (except the reading thing - I didn't really want my author friends to wonder where I am in reading their books). I thought about it, but that, too, remained unfinished. I could tell you reasons for all of these unfinished things - maybe I found something even better to start on, maybe the depression that has haunted me since childhood stopped me cold, maybe a loved one actually needed me and I never came back to a project afterwards. So why tell now? Why bring all of my failures to follow through out into the open?


Yesterday, as I was rambling through the rolls of The High Calling members' list looking for a There and Back Again starter, I came across a post titled "Unfinished". I wondered what the author, Lore (pronounced Lor-ee) Ferguson, might say about one of the prevailing statuses in my life, so I headed on over to her blog, Sayable

Lore's words started stinging me by the second sentence: "We cannot do what we do not do". [emphasis hers] That old Nike motto, "Just Do It", races through me at her thought. The voice of my good friend telling me, "nothing changes if nothing changes" follows closely along. I started sinking with the thought that all I will every be is an "unfinisher" and that I need to keep hiding that shame from you. But then Lore says, 
"It is better, perhaps, to let those parts of me be exposed, to show you the fraud I am, the weakest parts, the parts of me that I've been trying to cover with fig leaves and fragmented excuses."
Oh, surely not! I am known for confessing, and even giving TMI, but this? Why must we confess this as well? I know that I got lost in more than what Lore was saying about herself. Her words were reaching in and stirring up all of the feelings that keep me from telling you who I am - the feelings that keep me from letting my outsides match my insides.

The good news is that Lore did not stop there. She talked about the Ultimate Finisher. She writes about a recent conversation, saying,
"Last night I sat across from someone talking about how everything we do is practice for more practicing--that's the beauty of living and mistaking and healing and hurting--we're going to get it right someday because He already has gotten it right."
At this point, I am feeling like I should have simply posted a link to Lore's post, because she says so much more than I could say, so much better than I could say it. I'll leave you with this last bit of her wisdom:
"...God is the only one who finishes anything. That is to say that all of our accomplishments are not even mere drops in the bucket. All of our endeavors are not done. All of our adventures are errands. And all of our work is a shadow.

He finishes it when it's done.
And not a moment before."

Finding Lore Ferguson over at The High Calling and writing about her post is part of the "There and Back Again" writing project. If you want to read the who, the how, and the why, Charity has the instructions listed here. This project is enlightening and a good way to meet people at the same time. Please join us on Thursdays to write or just to read.


  1. Carolyn! Thanks so much for stopping by Sayable--I'm so blessed that this post ministered to you. It's my great joy when others are spurred on to the goodness of God through words scribbled in the dark. LOVED reading your words!

  2. Carolyn -- This post, and Lore's, is just what I needed tonight. I have a lot of undone things in my life. My old self wanted to give us and just start over; my newer, wiser self thinks that the Lord might have something for me in continuing on, from right here. Not starting over, but picking up and going on.

    You are a blessing!

  3. @Lore, thank you for your words and thank you for coming by! I'm glad we found each other.

    @Charity, you are the blessing. So glad I didn't let fear keep me from that writers' retreat!

    @Brandee, the wisdom is all Lore's. I'm merely a connector!


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