Have you ever re-watched a movie as an adult that you used to watch as a kid? If you’re anything like me, you suddenly notice all of the subtle inappropriate comments. You’re watching it with your kids, and you’re like, “Woah! How did I not notice that before!?” Or maybe you’re watching a classic that your mom always cried at when you were young. And before you know it, you’re crying! Suddenly, you get it. And at times you look back and ask yourself – why didn’t I notice it before?
You didn’t notice it before because you were a kid. You had to grow and learn and mature and think differently. You had to go through some things. You had to love and lose some new relationships. Maybe you had to have your heart broken, or have it grow and stretch as you brought people into the world. You had to go through some more life experiences to understand the power of messages that you just couldn’t grasp before.
You couldn’t know it then.
You weren’t supposed to know it then.
We do this so often with our own life. We learn a lesson and wish we had known it while we were going through it. It’s like that song, “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger…”
There are things in life that you just can’t know until you go through them. It’s more than just research or even godly wisdom. You couldn’t know then what you know now because of what you’ve been through. But when you’re in the middle… the whole “going through” part… it’s so rough. It’s open-ended, and confusing, and painful.
Your only role in the middle is hope and trust. You can’t know what’s coming. You’re not supposed to.
In fact, what you’re experiencing now? This ugly, in-the-middle thing? It’s God’s gift to you. I know… It feels like a punishment, not a gift. It feels like torture, and you’re wondering if God has forgotten you. But trust me, He allows trials in your life as a result of His kindness, not His anger.
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so that you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” [James 1:2-4 msg]
He’s doing something in you that you can’t do on your own. He’s teaching you more about His character, about what the Truth really is. He’s gently showing you new parts of yourself. I know you feel like you don’t like yourself much right now. You wish you were doing it all better. The middle feels so ugly and so messy and you wish you just got the point by now, right?
You aren’t supposed to know. You’re supposed to trust.
And the beautiful, kind of horrifying truth? It never ends. You know that’s true. Once you get through this particular season, there will be another one to come to teach you even more. But if we’re honest, isn’t that the best part of life? It feels like the worst part – the whole idea that we have really no control at all. But it’s the fun and the adventure and the surprise of it all that changes and grows us into who we’ll be. And the beauty is that the bumps and pain of your life will be part of the healing in someone else’s story. Arriving isn’t everything. Growing in the process is the goal.
To you, who feel stuck in the middle. Please slow down and read:
You. Are. Not. Stuck.
Stop. Read it again.
Change your wording and your perspective on your own life.
You’re not stuck. You’re growing.
You’re not stuck. You’re in process.
You’re not stuck. You’re learning.
You’re not stuck. You’re expectant.
You’re not stuck. You’re being refined.
Don’t just wait it out – hold on. With patience and confidence, hold on for dear life. Grab tightly to the promise that God won’t just get you through. He promises to redeem everything you’ve lost, and to restore to you His joy which will be your strength.
“We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary – we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit.” [Romans 5:3-5 msg]