A Thought on Happy Endings
Sometimes I hate happy endings.
You know the ones. The neat, square, too-good-to-be-true endings where everything coincidentally turns out to happen just right for our heroes. The ones where all the pain and sorrow was forgotten, as if it never happened, as if things like that don’t have effects, as if the characters will never be hurt again.
Because real life? It’s not like that. It’s not neat, not orderly, and it’s never assured that you’re at the end of the pain.
Trauma has after-effects.
Grief runs a course that lasts years—if it ever ends at all.
And memories never truly disappear.
The play I’m in has the first kind of ending—the too-good-to-be-true kind of one. And I was thinking about it. I hate the dismissal of the hard parts of our stories and the happy-go-lucky feel of the whole thing.
But after thinking about it for a longer time - and realizing that I certainly don't enjoy tragedies - I've come to a conclusion that reaches beyond our world.
The Greatest Story Ever Told
I'm sure most of you know which one I'm talking about - the one where the prince came to his rebellious people and gave his own life for them so that they wouldn't have to.
Sounds like an amazing story, right? And it is - it's the greatest story ever told.
Still, though, think about it. The prince came, died, conquered death itself. . . and then left.
His friends who had done everything with him for three years were left to discover who they were without him.
The darkness of the world was as dark as ever.
The followers of this prince were targeted and punished for their love.
The twisted faces and cursed "I hate you"s didn't disappear. The screamed "I'll do what I want"s stayed.
People still left. People still suffered. People still died.
Doesn't sound like much of a happy ending, does it?
By Its Cover
Sometimes I think that the eighty-so years we have on this Earth are merely the cover of our stories.
And we all know not to judge a book by its cover, don't we?
Because, one day, a trumpet shall slice through the weeping of those on Earth. A curtain of light shall sweep over the darkness.
And our prince shall return - this time not to die once, but to reign forever.
We who follow the instructions he gave us shall rise with him, away from the ugliness of this world. In fact, the ugliness will be nothing more than our memories - at long last, the world will be made new.
Note that I said it'll still be in our memories. This is an opinion of my own, but I don't believe that we'll forget the pain of our journey through this fallen world, even there. But Scriptures talk of the King himself wiping away our tears - just imagine. A cover of pain and an entire book of healing.
And this reign shall last forever. Just imagine the true meaning of that word - forever. Day after day after day after day of singing and dancing and not needing to fight against the darkness anymore.
And that's what I call a happy ending.
So what ending should stories have?
Real life in this world - the only world those who write and those who read know - is dark.
The life in the next is brilliantly bright.
So how should our stories be written?
Personally, I support bittersweet endings. Endings that acknowledge the trauma. .. acknowledge the pain. . . acknowledge the grief. . . and draw hope out of that regardless.
Not a blind, none-of-that-matters kind of hope. That's not true hope.
But the kind of hope that grows stronger with darkness because now it has something to shine through. The kind of hope that is a defiant cry, a courage that rips through the darkness, a pair of cracked lips that whisper songs of healing at the darkest point of the night.
And, after all, that may be the very best kind of hope of all.