What I'm Learning

In The Messy Middle

This post has been a long time coming. A little over 3 months, to be more specific.

I have sensed the Holy Spirit calling me to write for a while now. But I didn’t want to, plain and simple.

I can give it a bunch of names and some pretty good excuses, but at the end of the day, no matter how dressed up I make it sound, it is disobedience.

And believe me, that is really hard for this recovering perfectionist to admit. I chose poorly. I chose my own self-protection and laziness and agenda over the Lord’s, and I have carried the weight of that since.

I thought it would be easier to not talk about things. I thought that I could just process things with the Lord in my own way, that I didn’t need to see in black on a white screen the pain and confusion I was feeling.

And I forgot that when He calls me to do something, it is for my good. Whether I understand it or not, there was something for me in this processing, the laying down words on “paper” that so often in turn opens up my eyes to a great understanding of what the Lord is doing. I believe it’s a place the Lord prepared beforehand for me to meet with Him, where in His gracious nature He chooses to speak and shine a light on what is going on in my heart and mind.

(Have you identified your place like that? A place, a hobby, an activity, where you seem to intersect with the Lord on a deeper level? A place where you leave feeling more like joyful, a little bit more grounded, a little bit more fulfilled, a little bit more like you?

If not, I really encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to reveal it to you. When I have gotten away from writing, or pursued other things that I thought would offer the same, He has been faithful to remind my heart of how He has shaped me to connect with Him, and for whatever reason, writing is one of those sweet places. Our personal spot. And it’s important for me to know that. So I encourage you to find your place, too, and hold on it and guard it.)

So 3 months late, here I go.

I’m in the messy middle.

I’m in the messy middle of a season of transition and change, of struggle and heartbreak and new strength and hope, of loss and new gifts.

I don’t often want to share when I’m in the middle of something. I like those pretty red bows, the ones you see a lot of this time of year that will wrap up my situation nicely and neatly, explaining the whys and hows of the sequence of events we have just walked through. And that usually signify a little less pain in the telling.

I was hoping December would offer me my own red bow.

But it hasn’t.  I’m still very much in the middle. No full circle moments yet to share.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have something to share.

And that is something else I forgot.

That there is beauty and value in sharing in the raw, vulnerable times, if I will let myself do it.

We all need those completed stories, the Bible passages where we can read how God moved in the beginning, middle, and end to accomplish His purposes. But I also believe that we need to hear from people while they are in the middle.

Because it’s really hard on the other side of things to remember what it was really like in the suffering, in the waiting, in the unknown. Some of that sticks with you, but often, it’s easy to forget some of the vividness of those emotions. Time allows those feelings to fade a bit, and we forget that some of it was biting and knock-the-breath-out-of-you hard. And when you’re in it, it’s really nice to know that someone else has been there, too.

I know I have been on the receiving end of several courageous people that have been willing to share while life was happening, right smack in the core of it. I have been blessed and encouraged and strengthened by others who were willing to lead in vulnerability, from the middle.

And oh how I have resisted the middle most of my life. I have wanted to race through God’s preparation and processes to get to the end results, all the time. I struggle with trusting Him when I can’t see progress or change.

But He is opening my eyes to the beauty and value of the middle.

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Really, isn’t that what all of life is, on this side of heaven, the middle, the process of the transforming work of our Creator in our lives, if we invite Him in to do it? And so rushing through to try to collect my bows is really just forfeiting a lot of what He has for me right now, in the moment. The bows will come. He is faithful to bring clarity to what we need to know, and healing and He is a God of redemption, there is no doubt about that. But there is also something really sweet that the middle offers us, but we have to be aware and open and vulnerable to receive it.

It was in the middle that God has given me one of the best gifts. (But more about that later.)

And if this is true, that life is all just ‘the middle’, then that frees us up to share, openly and honestly, and find those ” me too’s” that we so desperately need to hear, because there is no shame in being in process. Definitely still offer your ‘bows’ to others around you, how the Lord came through and did the miraculous in your life! But let’s also share how He is still that same good and Faithful God in the middle, too. Trust Him for the bow, whatever that may look like, but also trust that what He is doing today is just as important and valuable and necessary, and someone needs to hear it!

So I’m going to start my journey of sharing about the past few months, what the Lord has done and is still doing in my life and in my family, and it’s going to be hard. But I believe that God will bring healing in the telling, encouragement in the sharing, and freedom in the releasing of my words. And I really encourage you to join me! Whether or not your middle looks like mine or not, let’s choose to proclaim God’s goodness over the pain and sorrow and confusion, the lack of answers or finances or community, and cling to the truth that He is moving on our behalf in it.

Much love.

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