Okay, so I'm in the middle of a lot of different things right now. I'm trying to get a book published. I'm trying to plan a book festival. I'm also trying to manage my new self-employed life. I'm looking for a new apartment. If I'm real with y'all, I don't like the middle.
For me, I like fresh starts. I actually liked the first day of school growing up. I enjoyed going back-to-school shopping, how new my clothes smelled and how neat my school supplies were in my backpack. There's something about the beginning that's fresh and hopeful. My backpack was still shiny. My papers hadn't gotten disorganized and crumbled in my backpack. There were no real tests yet. However, once we got to the middle of the semester, that's when the unsettled feeling for me would always creep in. Homework started piling up. Midterms. My backpack became a war zone filled with crumpled pieces of papers and leftover food wrappers. See, I don't like the middle because the middle is messy.
In life, I've realized we spend a lot of it in the messy middle. We do get new beginnings. Think baby showers, new jobs, weddings, first day of schools, going to college, etc. The list goes on and on. But the start of something is always short-lived. Many of us though love to stay in the beginning. Why do you think we love weddings? Last year, I was a bridesmaid in one of my oldest friend's weddings. My favorite moment was watching her walk down the aisle, teary-eyed and content. How amazing that I got to witness the first hours of her marriage. However, we all know marriage is so much more than the wedding. It stretches, hopefully for years, through kids, moves, new jobs, lay-offs, family health issues, death, grief, sickness and the list goes and on and on. No one is watching the middle of marriage. No one is celebrating the parts that aren't filled with fresh flowers, a shiny dress and a perfect ceremony. Why do you think we love New Year's? There's so much hype. The countdown before midnight. Everyone is excited about the chance to start over, a chance to for new goals and a fresh year with no mistakes made yet. However, there aren't any streamers brought out when we make it to June. No one is shouting and clamoring at midnight. By then, we're just trying to make it one day at a time.
When I'm in the middle of a lot and it starts to feel overwhelming, that's when I lean towards my faith. Psalms 139 is probably my favorite scripture in all of the Bible. It reads like poetry. In verse 5, it says "You've gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past. You have laid your hand on me!" In this particular part of the Bible, David is writing about how there is nowhere we can go to escape the presence of God. He writes that, "If I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night-- but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day."
The middle of many aspects of life can get dark: trying to make it through college, waiting for a job to open up, or for our family member to get better after a health scare. While, the beginnings are streamers and bright lights. For me, the middle can be long nights, unanswered prayers, and big questions for God. Still, the reason I keep coming back to Psalms is that the dark isn't scary for God. It literally says that to God the "night shines as a bright as day." and "darkness and light are the same to you." There is nowhere I can go to escape from God's love, even in the hard parts of the middle because he knows us so intimately. David writes in the same Psalms that, "you perceive every movement of my heart and soul." Just sit with that for a second.
So, the middle is messy. It's hard. It's dark. Sometimes it seems like there's no ending coming. I think that's why the twenties are such a rollercoaster. We start out at 21, with the streamers and bright lights, graduating from college, everyone telling us the whole world awaits. Once, we get to the middle, we have some bruises, some scars, some real world problems that have hit us smack in the face. It's not so bright anymore. However, the middle is really what makes us. We learn to persevere through the days that we thought we couldn't. We get to the other side. We gain perspective of what the middle is for. We learn to appreciate the beauty of the whole process-the beginning, the middle and the end.
I'm about to turn 30 in July and looking in my rearview I can see the whole enchilada of my twenties: the highs, the lows, the fresh starts, the hard middles, and the bittersweet endings. I wouldn't change a moment. I know through every high and low, God was there guiding me. He was helping me gain the wisdom and character I would need for my next beginning.