by Annette Bridges. ©2009. All rights reserved.

Who doesn’t want a happy ending? I want to see the bad guy punished, the hero and heroine together and everyone getting exactly what they deserve. Some call this a craving for justice. I prefer the proverb — “All’s well that ends well.”

This is probably why I generally ask my daughter if I will like “this” book or “that” movie. (My daughter has her Master’s in English Literature and is a book and movie connoisseur.) She knows what I’m really asking — does it have a happy ending. If she answers “yes” to my question, then I know I can handle whatever problems the characters will face because I know the outcome will be good.

Even when I’ve been assured I will like the conclusion, the challenges characters face can seem so insurmountable that I begin to think my daughter’s definition of a happy ending is somehow different than my own. But it always turns out as she promises it will, even if the course to the happy ending is completely different than I expect or want.

I’ve heard it said that Cinderella doesn’t always get her happy ending, but I wonder if perhaps this is because she has concluded there is only one possible happy ending. And just maybe there is more than one way to find the happiness and satisfaction she seeks.

I recently finished reading Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, and I must admit I read these four books faster than any books I’ve ever read. I had not read book reviews or commentaries, so I was completely in the dark about the story’s finale. But my daughter assured me I would be happy with the conclusion.

Even still, I read as fast as I could because I wanted to see if she was right. And now that I’ve finished the books, I’m actually wishing I had taken more time to ponder the unfolding saga of the story.

This wish has me contemplating my own life story. I know without a doubt that the author of my story is the best writer of happy endings. Actually, since God promises us eternal life, our story doesn’t exactly have an ending. “And this is the promise that He made to us — eternal life.” (I John 2:25)

Believing in eternal life is perhaps the best ending we can hope for — an ending that never comes. The promise of eternity pretty much dismisses the idea that it’s ever too late or that there is no hope.

Many aspects of my life journey have not turned out as I first imagined them. But I’ve learned, and continue to learn, that there is more than one way to obtain the “happy ending” in any circumstance. This has always required that I remove my own preconceived notions and limited expectations and remember that God has happiness as part of His plan.

God said, “I have it all planned out — plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

I believe in a happy ending — or future. It’s just that simple. I don’t want to ever buy into the idea that the world is cruel and dark and people are damned. So expecting and anticipating a happy ending gives me hope.

Lately I’ve been thinking I need to slow down and enjoy my journey more. What’s my hurry anyway? If life is unending, then what’s most important is the journey. I don’t want to miss anything. Every moment needs to be cherished, every lesson treasured, every triumph celebrated.

So I guess I’m not really in search of a happy ending after all — but rather a happy future and journey along the way. And I’m learning that the more I understand that happiness is a God-promised present possibility and not something obtainable only in the distant future, the more happiness is within my grasp right now. The future is tomorrow as well as the next hour or moment of our day.

I’m beginning a new book, and this time I hope to take more time to enjoy what I’m reading. Of course, my daughter says you know it’s a good book when you can’t put it down until you’ve finished it. But as part of my new goal to relish every moment in my life journey, I do plan to try.