The End is Better than the Beginning

By Kersley Fitzgerald

We were in JT's room, putting him to bed. Dev was going over the schedule for next week. Because he knows I don't remember numbers and he has to repeat everything 17 times.

"So, his teacher-parent conference is next Thursday at 1:30."

"Wait," I said. "Thursday?"

"Yes, I told you. At 1:30."

"But, Thursday? I thought you said Tuesday!"

"At 1:30."

"Yeah, but for the first time in four months I can make my meeting. It's next Thursday."

He said something, but I wasn't listening. I've been trying to make this meeting for ages, but things keep coming up. Usually requiring me to pick up JT because Dev has another appointment. And he was the one who scheduled the meeting — even though he had to work that day. Why didn't he ask me before he scheduled it?

"It's okay," he said, sighing. "I'll just take time off work."

"No, don't do that." He only works two days a week, anyway. "I'll figure it out."

I was on the edge of full-on resentful when I felt something pull me back. The strangest thing happened — I actually remembered a verse I'd read the day before:
The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
    and patience is better than pride.

Ecclesiastes 7:8
I'd never really understood this verse before, but here it was. What was the end? The end was how we would get along later tonight and tomorrow morning and next Thursday. What was the beginning? The beginning was right there in my heart in that moment. I got to choose. I could begin with indignation and resentment and the assertion that I'd, once again, been robbed. Or I could be patient and refuse to give it enough weight to drag me down.

I'm pretty horrible in moments like these. I over-think and over-analyze and have a tendency to speak words that are the continuation of the thought in my head but don't necessarily need to be verbalized in that moment. Honestly, I did it again the next morning. The brand new Trader Joe's doesn't have hours on its doors yet. As I was stomping away from the locked doors, a man ran after me, yelling that they'd open in half an hour.

"Too late," I yelled back.

He didn't really need to hear that. It wasn't his decision to open at 8 instead of 7. It wasn't his fault that the store I'd just left didn't have what I was looking for. All he needed to hear was, "Oh. Okay. Thanks."

Very often, that internal dialogue should really remain internal.

Patience is better than pride.

I think I mentioned before that I have a pride problem. It's getting better. (See?!) If I would just have patience enough to think about the ending of the matter, that would be good.

- I don't need to harangue my poor mom, recently out of the hospital, about what lifestyle changes she can make to prevent another flare up. I need to check up on how she's feeling and what she needs.

- I don't need to break up a tense situation by making that funny quip at a friend's expense — even though he'll laugh, too. I just need to be encouraging.

- I don't need to overwhelm a Facebook poster or blog writer about the ways they were wrong or inappropriate. I need to consider where they're coming from and find common ground.

Why all this? It is good to be right. I mean, it's a good thing to have an accurate assessment of the situation at hand. It is not usually necessary for the general public to know that I am right. It is not always edifying to express all the right things. It is true that an 8-o'clock opening time was too late for my schedule that morning. It wasn't necessary to express that fact in a manner that suggested another random person had failed in some catastrophic way.

The end of a matter is better than the beginning.

One of the definitions of "better" (Hebrew towb) is "more valuable." "The situation that will result from actions taken right now has more weight than this present moment — so choose your actions carefully." Knowing that present actions will greatly affect the future situation, I'm more likely to choose actions that will make the ending better.

This motivates me more than admonitions I've heard in the past. It is good and right to speak kindly because of the effect it has on the moment. But when I consider that the moment is a single building block that has the potential to determine future relationships — that's heavier.

And, frankly, I wasn't in the mood to be irritated with Dev. I mean, besides the fact that if he'd asked me what time was convenient, I would have completely forgotten my meeting, anyway. So I shut it down. I shut down the pride of being so important I had a meeting. I shut down the side-issue of JT hearing there was something more important than me meeting with his teachers. And I shut down the overly dramatic thought that this was an untenable and unfixable situation. Of course, it turned out I had half an hour between the teacher conferences to get to my meeting. But I didn't know that then. What I did know was that there was something else important that night that would really be more pleasant if Dev and I were one in purpose and spirit that night.

It's not that I have anything specific against the Orioles. I just really, really, REALLY wanted to see the Royals in the World Series.

Image Credit: Microsoft Clipart

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Personal-Life  | Personal-Relationships

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Published 11-6-2014