Sure, I’ve finished things. I finished high school (though, I was home schooled; it hardly counts). I finished college. I finished the Community Discipleship Home (CDH) year program. I finished a year of grad school. I finished a couple of my paintings. I finished drinking my cup of coffee this morning, though black for a lack of cream. But when putting my life on a scale of finishing and quitting, I end up a quitter.
Something I’ve noticed lately is that I quit. Even the smallest of things become huge burdens and tasks. And when I do finish things, though starting out strong, I usually end on a weak note. Somehow the luster of starting something new is lost. The new becomes the normal, the old, and eventually the forgotten.
I’ve been staring at a painting of mine for weeks. I sat down in one night and did almost the entire thing, loving every minute of watching a picture come to life. I left one thing to finish and said I’d come back to it. And now it’s been sitting on my bookshelf, staring at me blankly, begging to be finished. But it just sits there.
This one small painting isn’t the only thing that I have yet to finish. I start lots of things. My question for myself is not “how do I finish strong?” but rather “how do I finish at all?” In recent reflection, my realization is this: some of us are starters, some of us are finishers. This doesn’t mean that I can’t finish things at all as a starter. Of course I can. However, the simple truth of community comes back to haunt me. Don’t get me wrong, community is a glorious thing. It’s just easier sometimes to live alone and not have to finish things well, not have to grow through pains and joys, and not have to share life at all. It’s easy to become a and remain a recluse. But there is no glory in that. And nothing grand comes of it. It is in community that we are made a grander piece. Without starters, the finishers have nothing to do. And without finishers, the starters only make a mess.
Where is my community? Where are my finishers? I’d like propose that we starters give up our ideas and selfish ambitions in order to have a brighter piece made. That we allow others to belong in the piece, inviting them to do their best work in finishing. I’m not quite sure what this looks like yet, but I’m exploring this idea. I want to move further into belongedness with those around me, my neighbors and colleagues. When I start something, I want to know that those beside me are going to not only make me finish, but give me better ideas and ways of finishing, making my project or life goal their own. And vice versa. I want finishers to belong to me so much so, that I help them start their ideas and goals without even questioning it, as if it were my own. I want to care about it, cultivate it, and get it going.
Maybe I’m not really a quitter after all. Maybe I’m just here to start things, to belong to finishers. As I learned in CDH, “I am less without you”. This continues to remain true in my life. I am less without you. I’m looking for a few good finishers to belong to. And you know what, I think I’ll need a few middle-of-the-road-ers too. You know, those who are in the middle of the baton race, keeping us going until the finish is close? Yeah, those guys. I’m looking for you too.
If we start things together, we can consistently move towards a goal, finish it, and do things we never thought possible. Whether it’s painting or moving across the country to live an adventure, however big or small, we need each other.
I may look like a quitter, but I’m really just a starter. I’m less without you.
p.s. – sometimes it’s good to be a quitter – see smoking and/or sinning. yeah, quit that.