Life in the Muddled Middle

Author | Jamie

Some days I think that maybe we should not be writing a blog. There’s a possibility that it would make more sense to wait until this season of our lives is over and we know that there’s a happy ending. Telling the story in real time feels a bit dangerous. Suppose it doesn’t turn out well? What might have been a silent failure could quickly turn into a fairly public failure.

The Muddled Middle

I read an article the other day by Jock Ficken of Pastoral Leadership Institute about the “Muddled Middle Ground.” Life has numerous glamorous beginnings and painful endings, but there is also a middle time – a time when you can really only do what is in front of you today because the future holds so many variables. It’s hard to predict how current circumstances will play out. Jock defines it as “the middle ground where leaders navigate the closing of a season wrapped in its emotions and memories and unsettling disorientation along with the uncertainties and fears and anxieties of what comes next.”

“navigate the closing of a season wrapped in its emotions and memories and unsettling disorientation along with the uncertainties and fears and anxieties of what comes next”

Our family is living in the Muddled Middle. Maybe you are, too. It feels so awkward. Most of my thoughts are circular. I answer most questions with a lot of words that don’t quite make much sense and then finally surrender to the confusion and end with “I don’t know.” It’s tough on my ego. I haven’t felt particularly brilliant lately.

What’s the best way to navigate this season? That’s a fabulous question, and I imagine some pretty gifted people have written about it. Maybe I’ll google that later and see if I come up with anything helpful. Since this is my blog, though, maybe I’ll just share a few of my own thoughts, however untested and untried they may be. (I might even end up disagreeing with today’s thoughts in another week or so. Sheesh!)

Thought #1:

I think it’s helpful to begin by acknowledging that this season is difficult. Too many unknowns can make a person feel fairly unsettled. Shaming myself by telling myself it’s not that bad or I should be handling this better is rarely helpful. It doesn’t really matter if someone else would handle it better or wouldn’t even think it’s hard. For me – today – it’s hard. There. I said it. And somehow, with saying that, there comes a freedom – a freedom to take a deep breath and quit acting like it’s not hard. It feels a little like relief.

I think it’s helpful to begin by acknowledging that this season is difficult.

Thought #2:

I really wish I was navigating this season better. I wish I was stronger and bolder and more confident. I feel like with all Jesus has brought me through, the least I could do is go through this season without whining. Our journey of the last year has been amazing – challenging, for sure, but filled with beautiful gifts from God. I would like to represent Him better by sharing with you my deep trust in all He has done and all He will surely continue to do. I feel like my inability to do this reflects poorly on my Savior.

I feel like with all Jesus has brought me through, the least I could do is go through this season without whining.

Protecting God’s Character?

Remember the story of Moses and the Israelites in the desert (see Exodus 32)? The Israelites screwed up royally. God was about to wipe them out, and they definitely deserved it. Moses argued with God, and it sounded something like, “What will the Egyptians say if You do this? They’ll say that You only rescued Your people so that You could destroy them. How will that make You look?” Then God relented.

It’s seems like I, too, am trying to protect God from getting a bad reputation. He has brought us on this incredible adventure, but I think I’m actually worried that He’s about to blow it. “God, if you don’t handle this well, we’re all going to end up looking bad.” Silly me.

Foolish

I read this today from Galatians 3:

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?… Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

Yes, that is exactly what I was trying to do. I had forgotten who it was that had invited us on this faith journey. I had begun to depend too much on myself and my effort. The irony was that I was afraid of looking foolish. Maybe it’s better to look foolish than to be foolish. (grin)

I had forgotten who it was that had invited us on this faith journey.

Who knows? Not me. I guess I’ll just keep taking my worries and my struggles back to the feet of Jesus. What other choice do I have? Trying to be strong and smart and avoid looking foolish doesn’t seem to be working all that great for me.

I guess I’ll just keep taking my worries and my struggles back to the feet of Jesus. What other choice do I have?

Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:18

The story of our lives (and yours) is still being written. While the middle is looking a bit muddled, we already know the end of the story. Spoiler alert: it involves a fabulous victory! Stay tuned.

 

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