“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.” -Isaiah 43:1-2
If you are writing a great story, you better have a great ending. I’m not that kind of writer, but I know that if you want to keep the reader’s attention, you build tension in the narrative until you reach climax with the ending of the story and then it settles on from crescendo. Whether it be in tragedy or triumph, all great stories have a great ending. It’s so satisfying to reach a clear conclusion, there’s great closure when you close the book cover after a good story and exhale now you no longer are living in the tension of ‘not knowing’ how it ends.
As humans, we prefer answers to our questions. If you are an A-type personality human like me, you really really like answers and conclusions to get on with the rest of life and start planning and strategizing. But life is more complex than that isn’t it? Sometimes you have no idea how the story is going to end, but you aren’t a passive 3rd party reader, you are the main character in the narrative. It’s YOUR story that you don’t know the end to, or even how the next chapter will begin. You hope for the best, you long for goodness, you wait expectantly . . . but it’s not someone else’s fears and anxieties; it’s yours.
When you are living in the middle, you get to choose your orientation:
- Do you want to be oriented in the previous chapters? -You know well the shores you left, you knew how that world worked? The tastes, the smells, the ground etc. are all still recently familiar to you and there is a comfort in that. Do you want to live in this chapter flipping back to previous chapters and finding your identity there? You can choose to walk backwards into the unknown future.
- Do you want to be oriented in ending only? -You have strong invested interest in how this story ends. You know there will be a finish line, you know the adventure will end in a conclusive reality, you can only count success as crossing that line and realizing the end goal. You can choose to walk forward and just dog it out until the results are in, calling the results the ‘end game’ you are shooting for.
- Do you want to be present and live in the tension of the middle? – The middle is just hard sometimes. It’s hard to sit and be present in the unknown. Starting a story is easy, knowing the end of a story is even easier (you reading last chapter first kind of people!), living in the tension of the middle is the hard part. Allowing the tension and anxiety to build and actually liking it for the character-building opportunity that it is can be a challenge. The middle chapters can be the best part sometimes. One of my leadership mantras is #TTP, ‘trust the process‘. Believe that the process is just as good as the beginning and the end, it is in the middle where the main character grows in fortitude and personhood. Learning, living and growing up happens in the process.
I’m choosing to show up in the tension of the middle. I don’t exactly know what the shores are like for me and my family ahead, I do not know the end of this story. But I do know that the God who made me, who named me, paid a price for me and He has good in mind. He’s not afraid to throw me in a refining process of ‘growing up’ and He’s patient to trust His own process.
I trust the process because I trust the One who is authoring the process. #TTP He is THE author, I’m not here to write my own story. As I’m living day to day, moment by moment and showing up in the tension of the middle, I can tell you one thing . . . it’s a real page turner!