Most of the time when we think of middle, we think of a place that we don’t want to be. A temporary annoyance, something to get through to get to the other side. A feeling of being stuck. I am reminded this Easter of the importance of the middle. The darkness….the quiet….the waiting….the watching.
What a terrible and beautiful reminder that one of our most restoring and hopeful days followed such grief, horror and pain. I am reminded that most valuable things are only temporary, which makes them more valuable: youthfulness to old age, darkness and light, faith and doubt, life and death.
I’ll admit, I have been in limbo with faith. It’s humorous but at my first therapy appointment, (yay!! Props that I FINALLY started going) one of the first questions I asked her “Do you have short, quick religious answers to all my problems because if so, this isn’t going to work.” She answered gracefully and returned the question to ask if I were religious?
The next thing I know, I am bawling my eyes out and through sniffles and gasp: “It’s complicated” as I word vomited why I have such frustrations with religion and faith. Crazy thing is, I am suuuuper good at religiousness, at faith. If there’s anyone that can reframe a tragedy into something positive, it’s me. I can make the most doubting christian, secure in their faith if I wanted to, but truth is: on the inside I can’t bring myself to do that, anymore. Maybe in the future when I get out of this middle I can be of some use in that department, but not today.
I believe in hope, in mercy, goodness, faith, love….but I also believe in the fight it takes to come by these things. That sometimes you have to let something go that you love to see if it will come back to you. That in doing that very act, that you are trusting the universe, God, whatever you want to call it, solely to shape you again. Not your doing, but it.
That limbo is a time of deep rest and reflection. That though I believe in all those good things that I also believe in doubting, grieving, loss, pain, inadequacy, fear. To come by those good things you have to go into the darkness. We are so tempted to go around to get to the light but darkness is where the magic happens. Where we’re pressured, where we will find what we’re made of.
Sometimes the same lesson is presented to us in a cycle until we prove ourselves that we can break through; that we can withstand the temptation to choose our way instead of God’s way. Usually we think the most lighted path looks like God’s, but I digress. It’s most likely the darker, twisty one, that twist and turns so much that you are not sure what the next step is or if you are even on the right path. If it’s not something you would normally do, chances are you are headed in the right direction. If it seems failure after failure are the only things that come, chances are they are preparing you for something else down the road. Lean into that.
The road is long, feed yourself, give yourself grace. Change yourself on the inside, if need be. And yes, you can change yourself, direct your thoughts, pay attention to where your attention goes. Be mindful. Listen to the kind of person you are in your own head.
Self-sacrificing is something I automatically go to when I am uncomfortable, my control will tell me it’s dangerous to believe in another way and I carry around a martyr mentality and I Think that has to be the only way.. I find myself jumping right into this role almost out of sheer panic or some underlying anxiety (maybe a touch of narcissism too?) that things won’t be good unless I get involved. I guess, I’m slowing learning to take a step back and look, not only at the whole picture, but what do “I” really want?
It’s actually a hard question to ask yourself, when we’re so used to looking around and letting others and other situations decide for us. So lately, I’ve decided to not rush towards something just so I can get out of this middle. I’m learning to sit in it. Let it play out. Not be troubled by it, let it teach me. I put a quote up by Brené Brown today, it says “The middle is messy but it’s also where the magic happens.”
How true that is. We get scared when we can’t see where our faith lies, where our doubts become forefront. If there’s anything the Easter Resurrection story told us is that even the doubters got to partake in the story and in their doubts they may have even set the stage. Remember Mary of Magdelene thinking Jesus was the gardener? Had her doubt set a picture in our minds that Jesus came to show us a new humanity that would usurp what happened in the Garden of Eden?
I hope that’s where my doubt is taking me, though I am not for certain. I am not really certain about anything at the moment….but exactly in that limbo is where I find peace beyond my understanding, grace more than I am deserving and acceptance of this present moment as it is, with darkness or light, I accept it.
- Poem by Robert Frost
This blog was first shared on Becky's blog: Hot Mess Preacher Woman. Check out her blog for more amazing content where she talks about grace, life, and all that weird awkward stuff in between.