The last episode of The Office wasn’t particularly funny, but I was surprised by how moved I was. (Seriously, the scene between Michael and Jim, in which each of the teary-eyed adult men say “goodbye,” is one of the best moments the show has given us.)
I didn’t expect that I’d relate to this episode or to Michael Scott, who until this point has been the show’s dim-witted protagonist. But after thinking about it, as well as considering how that character has progressed over seven years, I know why this episode hit me harder than I expected.
It’s because I’m a little jealous.
Michael Scott now knows his story has a happy ending–and I’m not always sure that mine will.
On my stronger days, I do. I know that everyone, at some point in their lives, hasn’t always been satisfied with where they are. Everyone second-guesses their motives at some point. Eventually those feelings pass and you are reminded–again–of why you chose to be where you are and how much you love it.
But that doesn’t stop the doubt from popping up in the future, does it?
And when it does, I find myself wishing for a little clairvoyance. I would like to know that there is a marriage in my future–somewhere. I would like to be able to see how the work I’ve done so far has made a difference in people’s lives. I would like to know that the friends I’ve grown to know and love are still going to be the people I know and love when I’m old and wrinkly. And I’d like to be sure that I’ve shown Christ to people in some way, that I’ve tried to be a friend to people who don’t always find themselves with friends and that I’ve hopefully given skeptics of the faith a reason to reconsider it.
I don’t feel like I need all of those things at this very moment. I don’t even need everything to happen as I picture it. I just want some assurance that all of this is leading to an ending I’m going to enjoy.
That’s what I hope, anyway. Maybe you can relate because lately, you’ve been asking yourself a similar series of questions.
I don’t have an easy answer for you. If I can’t foresee my own particular ending, then how am I supposed to know yours? But I can offer something else. In the moments when I’m weak, here’s what I remind myself:
I think our story is part of something much bigger than ourselves.
I think we were created for beauty and wonder and justice and love and that we have been hijacked.
I think we were made for greatness and worshiped lesser things.
I think each of us has fallen short of that, over and over again, only to wake up on the ground and find that God Himself has stooped down and offered us a way to get back up.
I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is God with flesh, feet, and the occasional morning breath and that, by looking at him, I learn that God likes me as a person.
I believe the Cross is not a defeat but a sign that Love has reckoned with our sin and has neutralized our shame.
I believe the Resurrection has assured us that we’re going to dance on our own graves and outlive the darkest parts of ourselves.
I believe the Church is a community of whores who have been called to forsake their clients and pursue a Lover.
I believe that the same King Jesus who died on behalf of rebels will return to set things right, once and for all.
And because of that Great Story, at my darkest moments of disbelief and doubt, I’m reminded that I live in a world of happy endings after all.