In case you missed it, a few weeks ago I shared part of my story with depression. I’ve found that sometimes it’s easier to talk about a struggle when we already feel like we have a good handle on the situation. It all seems to make so much more sense when we look back from the other side of the hard. And man does that feel so much better. But the reality is, we spend a whole lot more time in the middle of the storm and as much as we would like to, we don’t just get to skip the hard.
So what is the middle exactly?
It’s those moments when you feel like God is a million miles away and you keep wondering why He hasn’t pulled you from this mess and made it better yet. And it’s those times when you can’t help but cry out and ask God why He brought you to this place, only to leave you there. It’s those times you keep waiting and praying and nothing seems to be changing. And then comes the moments when you don’t even think you can utter one more prayer because you have lost all hope that things will ever turn around.
In the beginning you feel so ready to fight but then when we don’t start seeing results, we feel like giving up. The end feels so far away that we start to question whether or not we will ever make it there. And before we know it the thoughts that maybe the fight isn’t even worth it start to rise to the surface way more than we would like to admit.
It gets so hard to keep saying “God has a plan” and “God is good” when our human minds can’t comprehend how this terrible season could ever be a part of a loving God’s plan for us. But for the past several weeks I have just been circling around the idea that: God is a God of the Middle. And that just maybe there is actually purpose to this middle ground we all hate so much.
One of my friends sent me a song to listen to a couple of weeks ago and as I listened on the way to work the tears came quickly, streaming down my cheeks. You see, I’ve been stuck in the middle before and I remember how dark and lonely that felt. (i.e. the video in my last post) I remember wondering why God wouldn’t just help me. But this song was a reminder that He never once left me alone. That He was actually right there each and every time I broke down and felt hopeless.
Listening to that song also took me back to a moment in counseling. I know over time you will hear a lot more about counseling but this one particular moment my counselor and I were doing some brainspotting to work through some of the hard moments from my past.
When we started these sessions I never knew exactly which memories were going to come up, but this moment I saw myself sitting on the bathroom floor of the mathematics building my senior year of college. I hadn’t thought about this memory in a long time but it’s for sure one of my most painful. My dad had just called to tell me that my mom’s cancer was back. And with that one phone call my life shattered again. Although I have no idea how I got there, I ended up in a bathroom stall on the floor weeping.
As I was sitting there in my counselor’s office wondering why the Holy Spirit would bring me back to such a painful moment. It soon became clear. This time instead of my memories just being me alone in the stall, Jesus came in and sat down next to me. I looked at Him and told Him there was no way I could do this again. I can’t, it’s too much. And His response to me was simply: You were never supposed to do it alone, I’ve always been here with you.
And then all the hard moments from my past started flashing across my mind, but this time He was there in each of them. Jesus was standing by my hospital bed when I learned that my face had multiple fractures. He was holding my hand when the doctors told us the end was near for my mom. He was standing above the headboard watching over us the entire 5 weeks we spent with my mom in hospice. And He was sitting next to me in the passenger seat of the car when my sister called to tell me my mom had breathed her last breath.
And just like that all of those memories from my past got a little less painful. Getting to see Him with me in each of those moments really made a huge difference. They were no longer as scary or lonely because seeing them in this way made me realize that I was actually never alone. Even in those moments when it didn’t feel like it, He was there. He walks through the hard with us because He’s a God of the middle.
Here is that video my friend sent me, listen when you have some time to let it just wash over you:
Like I said before, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately and I find myself continually asking: what if it wasn’t just about us feeling better or getting to that all elusive other side? And what if that thing we were waiting and praying for actually didn’t matter as much as we thought it did? Maybe getting to know the Father more during the waiting, was actually more important?
He’s showed me this past week that He loves us way too much to have all the hard just be about getting to the other side. And it’s not just about that thing we so desperately want. He knows there is much to be learned in the middle.
I’m suggesting that He wants to refine us in the middle, to shape us in the middle, and teach us to trust Him even more. So that we are a little stronger when the hard comes again. And a little more equipped to stand tall the next time the enemy tried to take us out, because we already learned the last time that Jesus is with us always and He always wins in the end. He knows that every trial has the potential to increase our faith and that we can consider it all joy when we encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have it’s perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4). He is a God of the process and He doesn’t cut corners.
What is so truly incredible about our Father is He doesn’t leave us in the middle of the pain alone. As the song talks about. He gets in the dirt with us, He keeps us breathing in the middle of the panic attacks and sits beside us in the bathroom.
He knows it’s hard. He walked the hard. And He never asked us to keep it all together or pretend that it’s not painful. But again He loves us too much to have us just skip the hard. He wants to love you through each and every step of the middle and if you let Him, He WILL make sure that you are learning and growing as you wait. And then somehow while you are busy falling in love with Jesus you will look up and find that you have already crossed over to the other side.
I’m not trying to say it might not feel extremely difficult at times. And it may feel like the very last thing that could happen is some kind of good coming from your current circumstances. But that is when we have to go back to the promises from the Word. And sometimes say them over and over again until we believe them. For maybe the 100th time we have to declare that God actually is good and He is faithful and the plans for our lives are perfect. There is something so powerful about bringing truth into our situations and actually saying the words out loud.
And as if Him walking through the really hard with us wasn’t good enough, He also promises that He will use every ounce of our suffering for good (Romans 8:28). The thing is, what you are learning and going through isn’t just for us. God wants to use you and your story to positively impact those around you. He can and He will make something beautiful out of our hardest moments.
I have no idea how long the middle ground will last for you but I’m praying that the next time you find yourself there, you can remember the promise that He is with us always and that helps you find a little extra strength to keep fighting. Your breakthrough could be a whole lot closer than you think and the bravest thing you could ever do is to run to Jesus one more time.