Being Thankful in the Middle of Your Story
I'm a weird kind of book reader. I love books. I always have. When I was younger, my mom thought she'd be rich if she had a dime for every book I owned. I love to read.
But I do something a little strange for you other book lovers. About midway through the story, I have to know the end. I can't wait to find out if there's a happy ending or a huge transformation. Don't judge me. I read the last chapter when I'm in the middle.
I can hear you gasping from here. All good readers know you're not supposed to read the end before you get there. You're supposed to enjoy reading in the middle. The suspense. The adventure. Enjoying the moments.
Your story is God's story
I had this thing in college. It was my senior year. Everyone I knew was trying to figure out the big question. What were we supposed to do with our lives? Little did we know that our lives would have so many twists and turns between here and there that that first step wouldn't matter all that much. We'd change directions for what seems like 100s of times since then. Or is that just me?
Back to my senior year... you see we had this bush outside of our apartment building. I was convinced that God should show up in the burning of that bush just like Moses. He would set the torch and inform me what steps to take. This was probably my first foray into peeking at the end of the story instead of enjoying the middle.
I read recently that your story is God's story. He's writing your story and as I experienced many times since the days that I wished for a burning bush - we don't always get to see the ending while we're smack dab in the middle. Our job is to embrace the story that God is writing.
What's your middle?
As I write this, I'm in the middle of figuring out business and if writing and designing websites is part of the coaching business or something separate and where the road leads from here. But running a business isn't the only middle...
Maybe today you're in the middle of a fight for your marriage. Or you're on a health journey which includes changing your food habits and learning to get more active. Or perhaps your moving...homes, jobs and people. The more stories I know the more I realize we are all in the middle of our stories. Stories that feel messy and confusing. Stories that feel raw and unfinished. Stories that are begging for a prolific ending.
I've been reading Ann Voskamp's The Broken Way recently. And while there are many quotes that I have stopped and pondered, there is one that I keep coming back to.
Embracing Our Now
If you're anything like me, you're looking for an equation to know how to be thankful in the middle. You know - if you do this + that = a happier story. The reality of life is this. The journey of life isn't an equation, to be honest. While I've spent many years trying to learn the ending to my story, God has chosen in His wisdom to only let me know about my now. As one person in a recent small group said,
Maybe a strange metaphor, but totally true. We are on a need-to-know basis with God. No matter how desperate we are to flip ahead to the ending, we have the privilege of being still in the middle and watch how our stories unfold.
Pausing To Be Thankful
The secret sauce in learning to embrace the middle of our stories is gratitude. We may not have arrived at where we hoped we would be - but we are definitely where we were meant to be. Part of embracing our middles is to pause and list what we're thankful for.
You and I, we can mentally tick off the things we're thankful for. Minnesota summers. Good friends. Or we can write them down. In a journal. To go back and review. And remind ourselves that even though He's not finished with us yet, God is good.
Trusting The Process
I frequently tell my coaching clients to trust the process. It's not original to me. I picked it up from my coaching trainers. But if I'm honest with you, when the going gets hard, I would rather run as far away from the process as humanly possible. My knee-jerk reaction is to run from and not lean in to the process.
Trusting the process means trusting that God is writing a better story than we could ever imagine. Trusting the process involves being willing to say good-bye because your next hello is exactly where He wants you. Trusting the process says I will be obedient to God's plans even when they don't make sense. Trusting the process means being thankful for our story even when we don't know the ending and viewing life with curiosity and adventure.
I don't know what your middle is. For some, our middle is filled with blessing and promises of excitement. For others, our middle is filled with good-byes and pain and fears. What I do know is that the state of your middle is not an indicator of God's care for you. God is not done with your story. Thank Him in the middle, lean forward just enough that you become open to the future without tripping. And embrace the story He is writing.
When it comes to living with an open heart, we sometimes need a little encouragement and a safe place to process. My group coaching workshop this Saturday at 10 am called Cultivating Curiosity may be just the place to take that baby step to thanking God in the middle of your story.