Note: This article contains spoilers.
In nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother, we’ve seen the peaks and valleys in the life of Ted Mosby. The series finale created mixed feelings in the dedicated fans.
Realizing some time ago that the mother may be meeting an early demise, I tried to come to terms that Ted’s roller coaster life may not be settling. Instead, I chose to find the broken beauty in Ted’s journey, embracing spiritual lessons to help us find God’s presence in each of our valley-filled lives.
To everything there is a season…
The first scene in season six pans to the sign in front of the church: “to everything there is a season.” Ecclesiastes 3 indicates that being human brings with it many highs and lows: life and death, mourning and dancing, love and hate. This series and specifically the final episode showcases the roller coaster of life. As the themes of new love, divorce, birth and death are weaved into this episode, we are reminded that seasons come and go for everyone.
Every once in a while, God calls us to leave the past behind.
In season seven, Ted and Robin nearly rekindle their romance once again. When Ted realizes that it’s not going to happen, he determines that he needs to make a firm break between him and Robin. Ted realizes any lingering possibility in a relationship with Robin can’t continue if he wants to find happiness.
As the wife of Lot turns into a pillar of salt when turning around to see what’s behind her (Genesis 19), we too can become locked into a moment of life or an unhealthy relationship. When a situations clouds our lives and dominates our emotions, sometimes it’s best for us to walk away. In order to move forward in a new direction, we will take this drastic step, embracing the pain that comes with it. There’s a possibility that God is calling us to find new life in a completely different direction.
Looking for love is often like traveling through a wilderness.
After seeing his closest friends Marshall and Lily find love with one another in their late teens, Ted continues the journey. He even watches his former love marry one of his best friends. At one point or another during these nine seasons, we’ve become impatient with Ted’s story just as we become impatient with our own. Will Ted find his happy ending?
It’s hard to watch a seven year journey of someone looking for love or achieving a dream. In the series finale, Lily acknowledges Ted’s difficult course in the final episode: “…a man with more emotional endurance than anyone I know. It was a long difficult road… Thank God we finally got here.”
And Ted narrates the same sentiment about his path: “At times it was a long and difficult road. But I’m glad it was long and difficult, because if I hadn’t gone through hell to get there, the lesson might not have been as clear. You see, kids, right from the moment I met your mom I knew I have to love this woman as much as I can for as long as I can and I can not stop loving her not even for a second.”
The Exodus story of wilderness is one that resonates with us no matter what our era. There are destinations along this path, but the journey is in some ways more valuable. In any of our lives, there is no definite “happily ever after.” But there are happy moments embedded into our tragedies, and there is sadness intertwined with our joy.
It’s the people around us in the wilderness that makes life bearable.
As Biblical stories of exile and wilderness fill our faith, our personal journeys include many people who never deserted us as we traveled through our own exiles. Without dedicated friends like Marshall, Lily, Barney and Robin, Ted’s long exile in the dating wilderness may not have been so bearable. In our own times of exile, who has stood by us or journeyed along side of us?
When it comes to love, never settle. Take the long road.
Song of Solomon 3:1-2 states “Upon my bed at night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer.” The narrator asks in verse three, “have you seen him whom my soul loves?” In this spirit, Ted continues to search for this love on his journey.
Devastating losses of Robin, Victoria, Stella, Zoe and more, Ted continues on his path, until he meets the ideal partner, Tracy. As Song of Solomon 3:5 says “do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready!”
More than anything else, How I Met Your Mother is a story of hope.
Christianity as well as other faiths embraces the story of hope even in the midst of the desert. Ted’s story is one of resilience. And sometimes our narratives of resilience need to be told, whether the story is in the sixth century BCE, first century CE or today and whether we are writing it in a book or telling the tale to our children.
Ted’s story reminds us of many of our own paths. We live, we fall and we get back up again. The story of our lives is similar in many ways. We experience extravagant grace and surprising resurrections along the way.
So as many of us are saddened by the ending of this show and devastated on how it ended, know that the human life experience is not one of fairy tales and people living happily ever after, but one of peaks and valleys. It’s a story where God’s love pursues us- no matter where we are in our tale.