Sometimes, parenting is hard.
Scratch that. Most all of the time, parenting is hard.
When our first son was born, my husband and I marveled at how easily we adjusted to life with a little one. We called him our Angel Baby, mostly because the books said we could. He slept through the night at a pretty early age; he ate when he was supposed to eat, played when he was supposed to play, pooped when he was supposed to poop.
And then life happened.
I returned to work after two beautiful, yoga pants-filled months of maternity leave. I left my job four months later to take care of my baby and follow the dream of writing and speaking full-time. I had a second baby. I moved every year and a half, because that’s just what life hands you sometimes. I made new friends. I said goodbye to old friends. I witnessed the effects of systemic racism first-hand, in my neighborhood and in my house.
I could go on, for the stories are many, but one thing is true: the only way to get through the pain of life is to go straight through the middle.
But if I’m honest with you, I really, really hate that middle place.
When I’m in the middle, I feel the whipping of the wind and the thrashing of the waves. When I’m in the middle, I wonder if I’ll ever get off the boat, if the storm will ever pass, if the one who invited me onto the boat actually knows how to sail in the open water.
When I’m in the middle, I often feel helpless. I find myself living in the past and on what was, just as I find myself caught up in visions of the future and on what could be. And, as luck would have it, both of those pictures seem to be painted in rose-colored hues, my memories and my hopes tangled together in snapshots of seeming perfection.But when I’m in the middle, I’m also extended an opportunity to be present – to plumb the depths of the hard things and bask in the glory of the good things.
Even if I want to run from the pain of the middle, I also realize that even though it’s hard, it doesn’t mean goodness doesn’t exist – and at least for me, it doesn’t mean that God, who is the very definition of goodness, isn’t there either.
Believing that goodness still reigns in the middle of the muck is hard, but it brings us back to the beginning of this thread: sometimes we experience goodness and peace and wholeness by trudging through the center of the mess.
So, we camp out in the middle, even though it’s the last place on earth we want to be.
And one day at a time, we take baby steps forward, because surely – surely – that counts for something.
So, what say you? I’ve got three places I want to point you going forward: first, this article by Grace Cho on fallow seasons is everything. Second, this narrative story I wrote for iBelieve about God’s peace in the midst of life’s storms might be helpful, too. Third, Jonathan Martin’s book, How to Survive a Shipwreck, is just fantastic and might just be your next read. So tell me, where would you point the rest of us?
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