The chapter may be ending, but the book keeps going

Since last summer, I’ve felt I’ve been dying a slow death. We’re in the long process of moving cross country in June, but not until some major events in our family occur: a granddaughter born, a daughter off to college and back again, a son marrying, another son returning home.

I find myself looking at every day, every activity, and morbidly thinking, “This may be the last time that we ever . . .”

Miserable.

However, God isn’t pleased when I mope, and I’ve discovered Him slipping ideas into my head, such as, “Yes, but you’ve done that so many times, don’t you want to do something new?”

As I get book 6 ready to send out to my beta readers this week (yes, that means it’ll be revised and released in late spring!) I’m realizing that life is a number of chapters, but still all one book. I’ve had many chapters which could be called Childhood, High School, College, Husband and College, Small Children and More College, The Riverton House, The Maryland Year, The Virginia Years, The South Carolina Months, The Idaho Falls Months, The Hyrum House.

I rather expected that The Hyrum House chapter would take another 20 years. The house isn’t my favorite that we’ve owned, but the neighborhood, the views, and the rural location with access to big cities certainly is.

Everything was nearly perfect. Which, naturally, meant that God said, “Time to shake things up a bit.”

That shaking is making everything fall apart. Our family will be scattered, and we’ll be too far away from our adult kids and grandchildren to see them on a regular basis. Since we actually enjoy each other’s company, that’s a bit of a heartache.

That’s when I scowl at this chapter ending and think, “I’m starting to hate this book.”

Because surely the next chapter can’t fix anything, right? We’ve had a few chapters that I really didn’t like, and the photo albums from those years are never touched. I was grateful to slam the book on those pages when they were over.

(By the way, fair warning to my beta readers: there’s a chapter in Book 6 that you will hate. Maybe two. Ok, likely three. Three chapters you will want to slam the book on. But remember–the story’s not over yet.)

But other chapters, I let my mind revisit and enjoy them, but also find something odd happening: I don’t want to necessarily relive them. I was happy for that time, but there’s no going back, thank goodness.

I’ve never understood people who miss high school, even into their older years, wishing vainly they could go back to those glory days. Sure, there were good times, but aren’t there good ones coming, too?

It’s those little thoughts, that prodding from Above, that remind me it’s ok to bring this chapter of my life to a close. God knows that I get restless with stagnancy. That once I’ve worked on a project for a few months or years, I begin to look around for something new. When a job no longer is a challenge, I need a new one. (This book series has been the longest I’ve ever spent on a project, because it continues to challenge me every day.)

While I crave stability, I have to confess to myself, and my husband, that I don’t exactly mind that he changes jobs every few years, that my mind begins to feel claustrophobic in the same place, and while my anxiety disorder causes me to clench in fear at change, that trapped part of my head is screaming, “Lemme out!”

(Brains are messy places.)

It’s when I’ve memorized the street signs, the aisles at the grocery store, how long it takes to get to the pizza place, that I find myself simultaneously thinking, “How nice that I know that so well. That makes me feel secure. Now I’m bored. What’s new?”

So it’s with equal parts of excitement and dread that I watch the last few months of our Hyrum Chapter play out, that I remind myself that it’s still part of my book, that it’s shaped our characters in unforgettable ways, and that we take it with us wherever we go.

And I try to remind myself that the next chapter will also be interesting in unexpected ways, and that I very well may look back years from now upon our new Maine Years chapter, think, “Oh, but that was the best one yet!”

(I just barely looked at the date–which I haven’t done in days–and realized that yesterday was the anniversary of my mom’s death, three years ago. And yet, even her story still continues . . .)

Perrin quietly shut the door behind him and ran his hand along it. As soon as he let go of it, that would be the end—

He felt Mahrree squeeze his other hand, and she reached back and touched the door as well. “I’m sure they have oak where we’re going,” she whispered, and let her hand slide down the door.

And Perrin removed his, clasping it into a fist. He gripped her hand tightly as he whispered in her ear, “Come Mrs. Terryp. Let’s find our new world.”

And neither of them looked back.

~Book 5, Safety Assured Leaving East of Medicetti

7 thoughts on “The chapter may be ending, but the book keeps going

  1. Just finished Book 6. Can’t wait to hear Book 7 is finished!!! Love your characters, but oh my there are so many to keep track of who belongs to who. ;0) The books are full of good, sound, true doctrine to live by. Also, they help others understand what is happening to our world today. How I yearn to live in a “Sale,.” perhaps when the Millennium comes. Please hurry and write the next book or books. Thank you for your agony and joy as you write these.

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    • Thank you so much! (I added the family lines at the back of the book to keep track of everyone, because I forget who’s who as well. I have only nine kids and I never call them by the right names, either.)
      I write about Salem because I’m convinced we can make it happen–it’s the Zion that’s eluded us, but it will come if we create it. We just need more like you ready to join us and make it happen!
      I’ve sent out Book 7 to my beta readers, and I’ve working on the last book, Book 8, so yes, they’re coming!

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  2. I couldn’t really focus past the whole ‘book six is coming soon’ part – I cannot wait!
    And I’m also not the type to look back and miss previous days and chapters (not that I have as many chapters to look back on), especially school related ones. I am so incredibly happy where I am right now, with baby boy number two almost upon us. I know that this is God’s way of shaking things up for us, too 🙂
    All the best for your huge move!

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    • Ooh, I love baby boys! Congrats!
      Being incredibly happy where you are right now means you’ve got this whole life thing figured out. I remember reading Paul once where he wrote to the Phillipians, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,” at a time when I was NOT content with ANYTHING! I realized then that had to be my goal. Sometimes I hit “contentment,” sometimes I don’t. But Bethany, sounds like you’ve got this!
      (On a side note, I’ve been writing on and off again a no-nonsense guide to pregnancy and childbirth. If ever I get it all put together, do you want to beta read it?)

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      • Thank you so much!
        I have to remind myself to look at things as they stand in the bigger picture of where I am currently. If I focus on any particular day, my ‘happiness’ might not be so happy 🙂
        But that’s also something I’ve decided to embrace; being content with the little and with the much that I have right in front of me. There is so much more to this life than simply wanting more, or wanting something different to what we have. We all know what that gets us…
        I would love to beta-read that for you – it sounds interesting!

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