You don’t know what the story is all about when you are in the middle of it.
When you are at the beginning of your journey there can be excitement, anticipation, and hope.
A deep longing for better, for good.
When you are at the end of your journey there is often wisdom, gratefulness, resolution and you know where the story is going to end. But the middle…
The middle is fog, confusion, a daily battle against despair and a fear that tomorrow will be no different. Sometimes you aren’t even sure what steps to take. All you know is that you feel overwhelmed, anxious, fearful and uncertain.
Yesterday I heard the words, “Small steps.”
“I’m focusing on the small steps because I can cope with that.”
I look at my friend who is in the middle, but who can see the finish line to her journey of overcoming domestic violence. Not just surviving but overcoming. I love that word…overcomer…
I look at my other friends sitting at the table…some are just starting the middle part of their recovery from emotional abuse, from being rejected, from being betrayed, from years of contempt that cuts our soul into a million pieces. My heart breaks as I watch the impact of being in the middle. The confusion, the hurt, the betrayal and the loneliness. My hands itch to hold them and to imprint on their soul “Beloved Friend.”
In the middle you just want to know that you are loved and you are enough.
You want to know that you are worth enough for someone to sit and eat the sour and the bitter with you.
You long for reprieve at someones table, anyone’s table.
Your heart longs for the shelter found in the arms of friendship – even if it is only for a few hours.
And if I am honest there were many moments in my middle when I simply wanted someone, anyone to time travel me out of my middle.
Our soul is messy in middles…broken, wounded, alone.
I look at my hands hard, rough and calloused by my own middles.
My hands remind me of the hands of Jesus.
Hands that were pierced to offer me friendship in my middle.
Their broken presence whisper, “I am willing to eat the sour and the bitter moments with you. I am present in broken.”
Hands that visually tell me, “I am enough.” That in the complexity of my middle the Son of God thinks my friendship is still worthwhile. That I am worth having as a friend.
I remember the first time I really understood this.
It was my small step.
I couldn’t cope with my middle.
But in the middle I found this small step.
That Jesus is my friend and not just my rescue plan.
I am glad that God doesn’t erase our memories but allows our memories to be memorials of growth and understanding. That we can look back and see how far we have come. But what I also love about the memorial of our memories is that we can look back and see friendship and presence.
We see Jesus, when he provided us with friends who didn’t desert us in our sour and bitter but who stayed and loved.
When kindness dropped its presence into the middle.
That moment when a supernatural peace pervaded our heart for no known reason.
When mystery changed our circumstances.
For me learning to see Jesus as my friend in my middle was my small step but it’s what turned my middle into a journey characterised by friendship.
That’s the way of small steps in the midst of middles. They seem small and insignificant but often the small steps are the most profound.
For me my small steps has meant that I know that I know that I know that middles are safe places. They are places of growth and stretch but they are safe because like the old hymn I used to sing as a child I have a friend in Jesus.
In that space I find there is enough grace, love, understanding, kindness, peace, gentleness, and acceptance to make the middles of life okay.
A note about the song: What a Friend we have in Jesus
Joseph M Scrivens (1819 – 1896) was 25 years old when his fiance died in a tragic drowning accident the day before his wedding. Heartbroken he sailed to Canada to start a new life. Working as a teacher he fell in love and became engaged again. His dream of getting married was shattered when his fiance became ill and died before their wedding could take place.
He never married giving his his time, money and literally the clothes off his back to care for the broken and the destitute.
When his mother was dying he couldn’t go to her in Ireland so he penned this poem and sent it to her. Later the great D Sankey turned the poem into a song and included it in his hymnal.
The seemingly sad and obscure life of this one man resulted in many lives being uplifted, and encouraged through his song. But the song was only made possible because of what Joseph Scrivens discovered in the middles of his life.
Personally I think we have forgotten that Jesus offers us friendship and its an age old wisdom that our soul needs to re remember and rediscover.
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.
Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” ( John 15:13)