in the middle
Life can be such a mixture of things at times, can’t it? Amazing highs with crashing lows, middle-of-the-road life with pockets of take-your-breath-away beauty, sturdy faith with wobbly doubts here-and-there, joy with sadness, despair with hope. It can be dizzying at times. Sobering. Exhilarating. Humbling.
I think that’s why I find myself drawn to the Bible stories where people are being plainly honest about where they’re at when we encounter them. I wrote a while ago about a man Jesus healed, how the unnamed man admitted the frustrations of his current situation and how he could not change it on his own. And then Jesus stepped in and things changed dramatically. Wonderfully.
I don’t hear a lot of stories like those. Maybe I’m not listening for them. Could be. I can be amazingly unaware of what’s going on around me sometimes. So with that in mind, what I’m catching more story-wise these days is on the ending, the victory laps in progress or the triumphs anticipated. And you know what? We need that hope, that encouragement. We need to remember all God has done, is doing, will do.
But sometimes we also need to hear the stuck-in-the-mud parts, too, the parts where hope flickered or waned, where you struggled, where you wrestled and wondered and wailed and were wounded. Because those parts, those ‘dark night of the soul’ moments cast the moments of redemption and resurrection, of hope and life and joy restored in a brighter and sharper relief. It lets us know we’re not alone in our struggles.
It’s hard, though, to share those moments. I say that even as one who is trying to find a dash more ‘Tigger’ in life to balance out my ‘Eeyore’ tendencies. It’s easier to focus on the happy, the light-filled and hoped-for endings. I need to know the end of the story before I can slog through the tough middles. Honestly – I’m notorious for skipping to the end of hard stories in particular before I dare tackle the middle. (Though I am doing it less than I used to.)
However there is richness and depth to a good ending being arrived at after a hard slog through the muck-filled middle. And that’s why, I think, I’m trying to learn more about those middles, about the final up-hill battles before the victory is attained.
I don’t know. Just some ramblings, I suppose, as I make my way through some middles and reflect on some endings to stories unfolding around me.
P.S. I also think it’s the coolest thing how God meets Elijah in his middle in the 19th chapter of 1 Kings. He doesn’t berate him, doesn’t tell him to stop confessing bad things. He allows Elijah the space to vocalize where he currently finds himself … and then helps him move forward. “So Elijah now tell me,” it says in The Message version, “what are you doing here?” Somehow, that makes this heart sing … or at least start to hum a little. ;-)