Most Sunday mornings my husband and I bike out to a local coffee shop. There are several reasons for this Sabbath routine: we like the exercise, we like coffee, we like mornings, and we like each other. It’s a win-win-win-win. And being morning people, we’re terrible about going on traditional dates because a conversation such as, ‘Hey, it’s Friday night, and after a long work week I’m exhausted, but let’s get all fancy, go to a restaurant where we can’t hear over the terrible choice in music, and pretend we’re enjoying an over-priced dinner, even though right this moment, we’re literally feet away from a fridge stocked with delicious food, which we could eat most contentedly without excusing frequent yawning’ isn’t a conversation we have very often. Boring, I know, but practical has its own elegance. You can quote me on that.
We recently biked on both Saturday and Sunday, which had us feeling fit, well-caffeinated, and fantastic. Until Sunday’s ride home. The miles already pedaled had trashed our quads, making the ride a little tougher, but the fatigue got real when we were assaulted by gale-force winds that never, ever let up…for six and a half miles. It was grueling. And that’s the benefit of biking far distances – there’s only one way to get where I want to be, and if that means pedaling tornado winds ‘til I get there, then pedal I must.
I need those forced opportunities where want joins will; where I’m reminded I’m capable of doing hard things. Muscles don’t grow stronger without resistance. Holistic growth is the same. Mental and emotional growth won’t happen without pause and healthy introspection. Letting go of good things lost or destructive things held is a process of discipline. Naming triggers and taming trigger responses takes consistent practice. Strength of spirit develops in change and adjustment. Fulfilling relationships require real intention. And let’s not forget, fetuses grow for 9 extremely long months – proof the growing of a person takes effort and time.
Often it’s the time-taking things that feel like the hardest things, because the middle…the middle is so dang long! But when I appreciate the journey for what it is, I find joy in the experience. I notice the beauty around me and learn to be grateful for the breath in my lungs and the strength to move forward.
It’s in the middle I discover the truth about growing and being alive.
That it’s ok to be uncomfortable. It’s ok to hurt. It’s ok to be misunderstood. It’s ok if I don’t quite understand or if things don’t make sense. It’s ok to be in between the start of change and the finish line. It’s ok to be who I am right now while striving to become. It’s ok if the distance ahead isn’t a feel-good number. It’s ok to be in the middle, it’s ok to feel the tension and resistance, because the only way through it is through it, so just
Counter-cultural truths, I know. Resisting the mindset of convenient, comfortable, and quickly achieved is a challenge, but I’m opening up to the in-between places – they’re the only spaces with room enough for the flourishing life I want most. Humility and gentleness, patience and wisdom, love for others and for myself – I want those things! You know when I’ve seen them take root? In the struggle. In the resolving of conflict. In the pushing through sticking points. In the forgiving and moving on. In the middle of resistance and the winds of change. The best things in life don’t come easy, but they’re worth the diligence. Diligence grows the good stuff.
I’m sort of in the middle right now, pedaling through gusts, pushing with diligence. Maybe you are, too. Take courage – middle places are where we see God. And He is faithful. When we do the trusting work of diligently moving toward Him, He graciously meets us in the middle, completing our efforts in His time, in His plan, in the journey.
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