Embracing the Middle

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On my blog, I try to stop and ponder how my messy, imperfect and ordinary life journey and my extraordinary faith intersect.

I try to see God working in routine everyday events and connect those to what He may want to teach me.

Last summer I had the wonderful opportunity to take two very different trips.

The first trip was to a small island south of Virginia Beach and included both my immediate and extended family (13 of us together in one big house!). It was an idyllic beach vacation with bright sun, fresh ocean air, and delicious seafood for dinner every night.

Relaxing. Unhurried. Calm.

Long walks on the beach, riding the foam-capped waves and lounging with a book by the pool.

Then about a week later, my daughter and I took a trip with her dance studio to New York City. Think Broadway, Times Square, and Radio City Music Hall.

Exciting. Fast-paced. Fun.

Bright lights at midnight, feeling the music and dance of a Broadway show and eating cannolis and gelato in Little Italy.

Two very different worlds. Two extremes. Two ends of the spectrum.

But I loved and appreciated both.

When I returned home to my life in suburban Ohio, I realized that I live somewhere in the middle of these two places. (Both literally and figuratively!)

And I began to ponder what that means for me: living in the middle.

What does this middle look and feel like?

Life in the Middle Zone

As a mom, I am in the middle of raising my children. Two are away at college and two are teenagers at home requiring my constant time and attention. I am in the middle of learning to let the older ones go and still being a hands-on mom to those who need me to be present daily.

As a wife, I am in the middle (hopefully!) of my married life. My husband and I just celebrated 26 years together. For those years we have been building our home, our family, and our careers together. We are still in the middle of that journey…moving closer to being empty nesters, but not quite there yet.

As a writer, speaker, and blogger I definitely feel like I am in the middle. Because of my commitment and desire to be a full-time wife and mother, I am not able to work full-time for my ministry. I also work a lot from home which definitely places me smack dab in the middle…the middle of doing laundry, carpooling, cooking, cleaning, and running errands! I know there is more I can do and that God has for me, but I need to recognize where I am on this path at this moment.

And as a 47-year-old woman, you can definitely describe me as in the middle! Middle-aged is what they call it, right? Yes, I am free from some of the self-consciousness and immaturity of my youth, but now I must deal with who I am and who I still want to be. I am in the middle of the journey of life.

finding peace in life's middle

Being in the middle can be frustrating, unsettling, and full of insecurity.

But is being in the middle such a bad place to be?
Can I be content in the middle or am I constantly longing for the calm or the excitement?
Can I embrace the middle and the mixed bag that it offers?
Do I dare to believe that God has some important things to teach me here in the middle?
I have told you before that I do not believe in coincidences…just God ordained appointments.

Finding the Miracle of the Middle

As I was thinking about this post and scribbling my thoughts in my journal, a friend sent me a chapter from a book she has been reading: THE MIRACLE IN THE MIDDLE: Finding God’s Voice in the Void

Hmmmm….do you think God might be trying to tell me something about this?
I read the chapter she sent me, loved it, and promptly ordered a copy of the book for myself.

The author, Charlotte Gambill, speaks my language because she describes life a journey and mentions the word “crossroads” several times (you haven’t heard those descriptions anywhere before, have you?).

Gambill confronts the question we often ask ourselves when we are stuck in the middle, like little kids in the backseat of long car ride: ARE WE THERE YET?

Yes, I have asked those questions too as I live, breathe, work, serve, and love in the middle:

Am I there yet?
Is this all there is?
Is there something more for me?
What is my destination and how do I get there?
Then a new thought occurred to me…standing AT THE CROSSROADS is really like being in the middle. (I know I’m pretty quick, aren’t I?)
And it’s okay.
The middle is not so bad.
It is a place of growth, wisdom, and adventure.
A place of highs and lows. Failures and successes.
I don’t think I can describe it any better than Gambill does in the first chapter of her book:

“In the middle are the many and varied stories of adventure–lessons we’ll learn and tales of trial we’ll face. The bookends of beginnings and endings provide a sense of stability to these stories your middle will cause you to write.
Though the pages of process in the middle are what we would most like to skip, without them, our journeys would have no real content…
The middle doesn’t offer the excitement of new beginnings or the joy found in endings. The middle is full of reality checkpoints where we realize the journey we had envisaged is unlike the journey we’ve actually experienced.”
~The Miracle in the Middle (p. 15)

Do you find yourself in the middle? At the crossroads? Would you consider meeting me here and embracing it?

I would love to hear about your “middles” as we walk this faith journey together. Please visit my website www.carlagasser.com. We can encourage each other as we connect our faith and our lives!

Carla Gasser

Carla Gasser has been speaking, teaching, and writing for over ten years in northeast Ohio. She blogs weekly on her website, AT THE CROSSROADS, writes for online magazines, contributes to several inspirational blogs, and has authored and co-authored a few short devotionals. Her passions are storytelling and connection, and she believes that when people share their stories with truth and authenticity they can encourage, inspire, and challenge one another. She writes and speaks about the messy, ordinary, and unexpected ways her life and her faith intersect. Her purpose is to help others seek God at the place of connection, serve their families and others on the path and connection, and support each other within the context of a caring and committed community as they strive to become people of connection. She is a work in progress, seeking fellow travelers on the journey!

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Comments

  1. I needed this post this morning. I am too in the middle…but find myself balanced more toward the “right” (end) side of the path. No more teenagers in my home. Only one of three children left at home. Traveling down the exciting yet somewhat scary road of mid-life changes. It’s exciting to have accomplished all that I have in life thus far, but I find myself longing for meaning and sometimes question my purpose. I know God has more planned for my life too. I just have to “recognize where I am on this path at the moment” and learn to be still and allow God to lead and hold me close – especially on those days when I feel like I can’t make it. Isn’t it great to have a God who knows exactly where we’re at and He never grows weary of being there to help us grow in every season of life? Thanks again….I’m going to focus on being happy in the middle today. Blessings~

    • Thank you so much for this throughful response, Steffanie. I am right there with you in the middle, asking God what comes next and trusting Him to lead the way. Some days I grow impatient and frustrated, but I know He is growing and stretching me as I learn to on His plan and His timing. Blessings to you!

  2. Very thankful for this post! We are in a “middle” situation as well and as all the “middles” look different the message you shared of hope, peace and contentment remains the same. I am thankful you hav challenged me in seeing the blessings of our “middle” today!

    • Your comment really encouraged me, Lee! Thanks for sharing. I think the first step to embracing the middle is being able to see the blessings in it. I will pray that God continues to bring you hope, peace and contentment as you wait on Him.

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