I’m a sucker for “Happily Ever After.” The notion that all that was once wrong has been made right, that the good are rewarded and the bad are punished (but then the bad repent and become good, too, of course because we wouldn’t want anyone left out of this fairy tale) and the princess finds her prince, her dream job and the perfect flattering haircut and rides off into the sunset. Ahh, bliss.
Real life, of course, has an irritating tendency to go off script. The bad get promoted, the good get dumped, and the perfect haircut proves more and more illusory with each salon. Heartbreak happens, and disappointment and loss and piercing pain – dreams go unfulfilled and children get sick and people are enslaved and the world seems, sometimes, like a cruel and twisted mockery of a fairy tale, no happily ever after in sight.
Except there are moments – small, fleeting beautiful moments – where Hope pierces through, where light conquers darkness. I’m learning more and more these days that God isn’t found in the grand, dramatic events of life (though He’s there too) nearly as often as He is in the small, quiet, seemingly everyday moments. Eating blueberry pancakes with a tousle-haired two year old, joining my voice in a chorus with hundreds of others others singing “Amazing Grace,” feeling the warmth on my face as I run through spring air, heavy with the smell of jasmine and sunshine.
Those are holy moments, and they happen independent of the capital letter moments of my life. Job. Marriage. House. Kids. The Future. All important, surely, but none defining the importance of my life or the beauty of the every day.
I’m learning, slowly but surely, that there is no finish line, no defining moment, no “happily ever after” after which your life can start and you find that happiness you’ve been searching for. The Happily Ever After, I’m learning, finds you – it finds you at the wedding and at the funeral, at the baptism and the burial, at the highest peak and the lowest depth. It finds you in the bright shiny moments and the dark stinging ones.
Happily Ever After isn’t a destination to arrive at, it’s a way of life to be embraced – a choice to find the beauty and the good and the redemptive right here, right now – regardless of job or relationship or financial status, regardless of whether your deepest held dreams have come true or lie shattered at your feet, so much broken glass, cutting deep with every step.
So, tomorrow I doubt I’ll land my dream job or meet Prince Charming or find that elusive perfect haircut (though a girl can still hope). What I will do – imperfectly, haltingly, slowly – is let Happily Every After find me – in words of love and grace and patience, in a kind smile and shared laugh, in the giggles of two irrepressible three year olds. I’ll open my eyes and my hands and let love find me, just where I am.