The Middle

Michael and I have become quite fond of the TV show The Middle about a somewhat a-typical suburban family that seem to always have a few more lemons (with which to make lemonade) than everyone else. We like the show because we can relate, but I think anyone who watches the show also gets a faint sense of “well, I’m not that bad, so I must be doing pretty good” when it comes to how they raise their children, tend their marriage, work, etc. And while it does offer a boost of self-esteem, it also puts a simple spin on the everything, reminding us that life CAN in fact exist without trying to out-do one another with Pinterest craft decorations or home-grown organic garden meals and that somehow, everyone will be OK. (I know, SHOCKING!)

I don’t know if ABC intended it this way or if it’s purely coincidental, but the title is more than a little appropriate. The middle is where most of us get stuck trying to figure out how to ‘do’ life. We love beginnings for the most part, and even if endings are sad, they’re still an accepted part of life. The middle, however, is where just about everything happens, or doesn’t happen in some cases.

We’re in the middle right now – in the middle of some messes, the middle of our baby girl’s first year of life, approaching ‘mid’-life. It’s a great place and a horrible place to be. Some days I can relax and enjoy it. Others I’m longing for a new beginning, or (at the moment) I’m desperate for an END to an ongoing problem.

I came across this post the other day and it spoke so richly of the middle:

The Middle: When Pushing Through Brings Joy

The middle. Not many want to go there.

Most of us prefer being shot out of our starting blocks for a new adventure. Or rounding the corner to see the finish line with high fives from close friends. It’s the moment we wait for. At the finish we know that the sweat, the mind games, the times we thought it would never happen were well worth it. We finally hear well done.

The middle is the part most us don’t want to talk about. It’s not glamorous. It’s hard.

The middle is the reason most don’t finish.

But the middle is the secret to the joy that seems to elude us.

This is where love is born. . . right in the middle.

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. {Romans 5:2-5}

Are you in the middle? Worn out? Wondering where you’re going to get that last bit of perseverance you need?

You wonder if this is really worth it.

And joy? Yea, right. That seems like a long lost friend that deserted you at the last pit stop on this long journey.

I have good news.

You’re in the middle. {Sometimes knowing exactly where you are on your God-sized adventure helps. It’s not that you’re in the wrong place, it’s just called the middle and it’s not what you thought it would be. So don’t turn around or give up.}

Since I’m in the last 7 weeks of my pregnancy {a journey with a very long middle – 7 years of waiting and hoping!} I seem to find spiritual analogies every day I watch my baby belly grow.  And during this special time, I have learned a secret about labor and delivery – transition.

The transition is the time between the first stage of labor when contractions start and the second stage where I’ll begin to push her into the world.

During the first stage of labor there is excitement. “We’re going to have a baby! It’s really happening.”  The waiting is over and relief is on the way for a tired mama body that’s about to pop. The contractions begin. It’s time for her to come into the world.

My body will go into a mode it is was created for.

The contractions and first stage of labor can last a few hours to almost a day. Then there is a time of transition to second stage. The transition is where most women want to give up. They say ‘It’s too hard. I don’t want to do this. It hurts too bad.’  Crying, emotional meltdowns and even confusion can occur.

The transition is where I will be truly tested. It happens with every birth. {Whether you’re birthing something in the physical or spiritual realm, there will be a transition.}

What follows is the second stage of labor when I will push my baby into the world.

Without the transition, the birth won’t happen. But the transition will always happen. And is needed.

Our birth class instructor shared this insight, ‘If you’re prepared for what the transition looks like, then you won’t be freaked out. You’ll also be aware that you’re entering the second stage and about to meet your child. This isn’t the time to give up. It’s a time to celebrate since you’re almost there!”

Maybe you’ve been laboring for months, maybe years, and feel like you’re getting nowhere. The process is getting harder. The promise looks like a mirage. The doubts of the miracle promised seem more real than going through the pain of getting to the other side. Remember you’re in transition and the break through is about to take place.

It’s time to celebrate. You’re almost there!

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. {Hebrews 12:2}

What are you pushing through for the joy set before you? Please don’t give up.

The special love you bring into the world is worth it.

– Stephanie Bryant, inCourage Contributor

So if I took anything from the article it’s definitely the part about delivering a baby, a process that I was absolutely convinced would kill me. It didn’t. And it delivered every bit of joy it promised. Sometimes I do think I would rather go through delivering a baby 15 times than go through a long ‘middle,’ but I have to believe that the length of the transition is directly related to the joy that ‘middle’ will yield.

 

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