We all love stories with a happy ending, don’t we? Stories of healing, victory, freedom and breakthrough…
Because these are the ‘good’ stories, the ones which we like to tell over and over, the ones that lend us courage to continue, and serve to strengthen our faith.
I mean, no one ever says that the middle part in a film trilogy is their favourite, and no one ever really talks about what happens in the middle of the story either.
It’s all about having a strong start and end.
But the truth is that most of our lives actually take place ‘in the messy middle’ part; in the grey and the uncertain, the unresolved and the unknown, somewhere between the starting point and the end.
So surely the middle part of each of our stories should be worthy of a bit more attention and consideration than we often give them?
And a part of my current story revolves around being in the middle of recurrent miscarriage and battling to have a second child.
If you’d asked me a year and a half ago, back at the start of this chapter of my life, I’d have told you that I’d expected a much quicker, smoother and more conclusive resolution to this particular narrative in my life.
Back then, I thought it was just a very temporary diversion from the plan, an annoying interruption, an irritation, but nothing that couldn’t be ironed out within a few months.
But fast-forward almost 18 months on, back to the here and now, and the happy ending that thought would soon be in my grasp, and that I keep hoping for, still hasn’t materialised…
In fact, the truth is that right now our happy ending looks more elusive and out of reach than I could have ever possibly imagined back at the beginning of this particular story.
But all of this time I’ve spent feeling stuck in limbo in this inconclusive middle part, has got me thinking…
Why is it that we don’t tend to honour the messy, incomplete, muddled up stories about our lives, as much as the nice, tidy, neatly resolved, faith-inspiring ones anyway?
It’s as though we’ve learned to self-censor, to edit, and leave the harder stories untold, just because they sometimes raise difficult questions about our faith, or are just more painful to tell or uncomfortable to hear.
But surely God is also in the midst of those hard, messy, and still yet-to-be-concluded stories about our lives as well?
And although they may not always get the most attention or the loudest applause, personally I think that these are actually the stories that really need to be heard. Because often these are the really inspiring stories of how He is at work in our lives.
At work in the midst of the heartbreak, the brokenness, the messes and the questions.
And I absolutely get why people tend to want to skip over the middle and get to the end quicker – it’s the filler, the detail, the inbetween, and the often uncomfortable bit.
But actually, that’s not all it is…
The middle is also about the character development, and plot development. It’s the part that enables the remaining narrative to unfold, and it’s the glue that holds everything else together.
And without the middle part, there simply is no end. In fact, there is no story at all.
This last period of my life has been unexpected and uncertain in equal measures. But right in the middle of all the loss and disappointment and heartbreak, the subtext is that God has been healing my heart, restoring some dreams, and reordering my life to look a bit more dependent and centred on Him.
And it’s certainly not been a middle part that I would have chosen to include in my story. Neither does the narrative look like the one I’d have written for myself.
My version would almost certainly have been wrapped up much quicker, after a miraculous and rapidly appearing answer to prayer.
But despite this, I am still trusting the author of life to pen the very best version of my story, and believing that it will be far better than any version I could write for myself (at least on my good days!).
And even though I still don’t know how the ending of this particular story will look just yet, or if the ending will be the one we are hoping for, as a family we have felt the living God drawing close to us in our pain, which is a miracle right in the middle of the story too.
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