Writing 101. All stories must have a clear beginning, middle and end. Students are taught this at a young age and as they develop their writing skills, the beginnings, middles and ends get more complicated. When writing, I think most writers would agree that the beginning is the toughest. I’ve sat in front of a blank piece of paper or a blank screen more often than not. I’ve also seen students struggle to write something on that scary, blank piece of paper. They used to turn to me and say, “I don’t know how to start.”
Isn’t it ironic, though, that in life, the beginnings aren’t hard, but easy? Beginnings are exciting, full of promise and novelty. Your first day of school, your wedding, or a newborn baby. Think of all the ‘firsts’ in your life, like your very first job or a first date. Most of us like the start of something. New Year resolutions are all about first starts. Starting a new exercise routine, starting a new saving plan, starting a new way of eating are common examples. The starting is pretty simple and often noted with great fanfair.
Endings are pretty easy as well, in life. They are often celebrated or memorialized. Retirements, graduations, even funerals are events that mark the ending of something important we began.
The middle, though, is when life gets tough. My ‘forever’ pastor, Sam Phillips, pointed this out to me a few years ago and the thought has never left me.
In the middle is when the novelty wears off and the exciting becomes routine and mundane.
In the middle of school, many kids get frustrated and lose hope that they’ll ever make it to graduation.
In the middle of your marriage, life gets hard, romantic love dims and that person that you promised to love, hold and cherish forever always leaves his dirty socks in the living room and toothpaste spittle all over the mirror.
In the middle of parenting, that sweet, precious newborn baby has turned into a moody, distant teenager that sometimes looks at you like they wish you were dead.
In the middle is when people tend to give up, back out or fall down. It’s the most crucial part of your life and the least celebrated. Rarely does one get a “you made it to 7th grade” party, or “You’ve made it half-way through parenting” celebration. No, rather the middle is made up of routine, ordinary, mostly unremarkable days that grow into weeks and months, even years.
The middle is when we need encouragement the most, yet seldom get it. Let me change that for you. Are you in the middle? Most likely you are because the greatest percentage of our lives are the middle. Don’t give up, back out or fall down. The end will come soon enough. It will be worth it.
For now, let me encourage you with some things that have encouraged me in my “middle”:
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deut. 31:6
But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13