Do you know this story? It's a Little Golden Book with Sesame Street characters from the recesses of my childhood. Lovable Grover is the star and he's terrified of the monster at the end of the book.
He pleads the reader to stop reading. He constructs elaborate locks and chains and blockades to prevent you from turning the page, and every time you thwart his efforts, he grows more terrified.
When you reach the climactic conclusion, you discover that lovable, furry old Grover is, in fact, the monster at the end of the book. Grover is relieved and all is well.
This was my absolute favorite book as a child. I remember insisting my parents read it to me over and over again. I remember being a little scared every single time because I was afraid of monsters and then relieved because, oh yeah, it was just Grover.
Am I a Monster?
I have this friend. She is in the midst of a major life transformation. She is in the middle of losing a lot of weight and at this point has lost 90 pounds in just under 12 months. Obviously, it is very hard work. She has had to revamp her eating habits and stick to them through holidays, birthdays, sad days, and happy days.
One of her greatest struggles is in considering how she got to this point in the first place. She relives bits of her history each time she reaches a new weight goal. "Last time I weighed this amount, I was in college," she tells me and then her memories of her life from that time come flooding back to her. My understanding is that during many of the years when she was putting on the weight, she was wandering in darkness. She was lost and living life for herself alone. Now, she is found in Christ and lives a life of service and love to Him, but those memories remain. As she lived difficult things then, she simply stuffed them down inside - under layers of food. Now that those layers are coming off, low-and-behold, the difficult memories are almost as painful as the situations themselves.
The other day, we were having lunch and she was sharing how she was doing on her health journey. She is still moving forward, but some days are more daunting than others. Then she asked me a very strange question...
"Have you ever read that Sesame Street book, There's a Monster at the end of this Book?"
Uh, yeah! I went on to gush over how it was my most favorite book as a kid and why did she ask.
She said, "That's me. I'm the monster at the end of the book. I don't know myself. I don't know who I'll be when this story is over and it's scary."
Wow. What an eloquent assessment of what it's like to go through change.
All we know is that we are changing, every single day. What we don't know is where that change will take us or what our future holds. What we need is friends and loved ones around us who will be there. People who will pray and help as we struggle and then commit to caring for us when what and who we are is finally revealed.
I've heard it called "My Tribe" or "My People" and I love these concepts. The ones we rest with. The ones we let down our hair with. The ones we ugly cry front of. The ones to whom we say stuff that is not eloquent or encouraging and even down right ugly, but in love, they remind us who we are and who we want to be. The ones that remind us that today is not tomorrow and that hope comes in the morning.
The ones who are not afraid of our monster at the end of our book.