This Is Not the End

I left another AA meeting tonight. Recently, I’ve been to many. I say the things, I pray the prayers, I listen and learn from my alcoholic brothers, sisters, elders and freshmen.

We are all the same, but so different.

Every rock bottom tells a different story. Some are so strung out, their bodies shiver from the absence of alcohol. Some wear ankle bracelets until they can once again be trusted. Some ride mopeds. Some walk to meetings. Some run. And some of us are simply “functioning alcoholics”, which is entirely debatable. Because while we may not have lost our children or careers, we most certainly lost our way. And then we lost ourselves.

It’s true that every rock bottom tells a different story. But our way out is very much the same. For all of us, accepting hardship as the pathway to peace, is where we find serenity. That’s our common ground.

I walk the Monon fairly often, which is a trail located in Indiana. I use it as a place to clear my head. To pray and meditate. To dream. To have pretend conversations with people who are on my nerves—conversations I always win. (I’m like a million and 0.)

Last week, I was struggling through life. I was lonely and depressed. I was feeling terminal. While on a walk, I came across a song on my playlist called This Is Not the End by: Gungor. The heavy drums beating in quarters could’ve easily been marched to. But instead, I stopped along the side of the path and listened—really listened to the lyrics of the song.

This is not the end
This is not the end of this
We will open our eyes wide, wider

This is not our last
This is not our last breath
We will open our mouths wide, wider

I was standing in front of a construction site, staring, listening to the pounding cadence when it finally subsided into these words.

And you know you’ll be alright
Oh you know you’ll be alright

You are going to be alright, it told me. Though still, I wasn’t convinced. But then, among tractors and the skeleton of a very large building, a message appeared before me—a message I chose to believe was from God.

You may not have noticed it at the top of this blog post. But give it another look.

Right there in the middle of a chain link heart, scrawled across a crane lift, were two little words.

No chains.

As the tears welled up, I smiled and let this thought sneak into the bound-up places I had been carrying around for several days.

No chains. Not on me.

Call it coincidence if you want, but I could never call it that. You see, my mom instilled this sense of God’s love within me at a very young age. I believed her when she told me that God had every hair on my head numbered—that he loved me more than anything.

I still believe this way—that God dances for me, the same way Farmer Hoggett danced for Babe when that little pig just needed someone to believe in him.

You see, I’ve always had this suspicion that I am one of God’s favorites. And I have a suspicion that you are too, absolutely. I believe that God hardwired me with exactly what I would need to recover from the tragedies of life. And that he’s done exactly the same for you.

I believe that when God is alone with the angels, he says, “Just look at him. I did good. I did very good.” Which is why I believe that whatever terrible thing this present moment holds for you…this is most certainly not the end, my friends.

Of me.

Of you.

Today is my brother’s birthday. He was born on Good Friday in 1969 and passed away in a motorcycle accident on June 14th, 1992. He was 23 years old.

In the last five months my family of origin, that was once a family of five, has dwindled to two. Now there is just my incredible mom, and myself.

Together, we’ve lost my sister Trina, my brother Tim, and I’ve lost my dad. We’re small and hurting, but we are mighty in love. In fact, it is that love—the love of God—that has been our survival.

I don’t know where the road has taken you—or where it has left you. But I know that some of you are struggling to breathe right now, while others have lost your way completely.

I want you to tell you that God is not looking for you—that he is not wondering where you are. He knows exactly where you are because he is right there with you. The same God who leaves messages at construction sites. The same God who knows your name.

So hang on, friend. Just hang on. Because this is not the end.

Wishing you grace, peace, and so much love.

Matt

PS – Here is that amazing song. Let it sneak into those bound-up places. And also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TIM!!!!


*This Is Not the End is from Gungor’s album, Ghosts Upon the Earth. You can pick that up HERE…because it’s some of the best music. F’real.

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