I’ve learned in life that if I move fast enough (literally and figuratively) I can evade my life. If only for a measure of miles, I can tune out everything but my breath and my stride. 

What I’ve also learned, though, is that I wasn’t born to be evasive, and neither were you. Just like Adam and Eve, we can conjure up a game of hide-and-seek. But we’re just like toddlers crouching behind a sheer curtain; we can’t really evade our pain and sin. It doesn’t work that way. But, truthfully, I didn’t know what approach to life really does work when I entered 2023. I had finally acknowledged that hiding wasn’t the answer. But “how do I fix it?” I journaled. “How do I fix me?”

Before & After

We live in a culture that is fixated on “before and after” photos. Whether it’s a picture of a mouth before and after braces, an ad about a fad diet, or an end-of-the-year reflection; we love to show the dramatic A to Z transformation.

Understandably so; transformations like those are beacons of hope that we can look better, feel better, and be better. 

A Case for Celebrating the Narratives in the Middle

This year, I have a different idea. See, God is the God of the messy middle just as much as He is the God of the finish lines. Candidly, this year has been more of the former–the most beautifully messy year I have ever lived. 

Before and Afters can be really cool. They can show the radical difference between two extremes. Yet, they also leave out the beautifully messy narratives that illustrate the substance of our humanity and the fullness of God’s divinity. 

In fact, I could show you plenty of Before and After pictures from high school or college. Those pictures would suggest that I was mentally well and stable at various points, particularly as my weight was in an acceptable range. But photos wouldn’t show the extent to which depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder ruled my life. What’s more, those “before” photos could very well glorify an unhealthy body and mind.

Before and after photos leave out the beautifully messy narratives that illustrate the substance of our humanity and the fullness of God’s divinity.

So, go ahead and share those transformations. Seriously, they’re so cool! But let’s also thank God for the in-betweens–where we reside most of the time if we’re honest.

The Beautiful & Messy Highlights of 2022

With that in mind, I want to share a few foundational moments from this year. Two-thousand and twenty-two found me…

  • Embarrassed and ashamed of who I am
  • Struggling more than I ever have to read my Bible
  • Processing…. a lot 🙂 
  • Rediscovering my creative side
  • Writing more than ever before. Sharing some of those words, but saving many in discretion.
  • Searching deeply to know who God is and who I am
  • Riding slides
  • Crying more than any other year in my life
  • Saying hard goodbyes
  • Uttering my first curse word (not making this a habit, but it was liberating in a moment of frustration)
  • Getting sucked into social media and then taking a social media Sabbath 
  • Lying
  • Loving
  • Forgiving
  • Hoping
  • Healing

There’s so much more I could say about the middle. I am a different woman than I was a year ago. But the healing I have experienced was far from a random “blip”–it’s the Scripture that’s pulled my heart away from self-destruction, the grace I haven’t deserved but have received, the faithful prayer of so many, and the arduous hours I’ve spent in therapy. That’s the stuff I’m proud of and grateful for.

Friend, let me encourage you that your journey–albeit unique–is not altogether different. You have experienced grace upon grace this year. You’ve healed and you’ve hurt others. You have spread compassion, and you’ve probably poured out critique as well. And yet: you’re here and you are loved. That means that you and I are living testaments to God’s faithfulness in the middle (1 John 5:10).

Here’s to the end of a year and the middle of a redemption story.



One thought on “Why Your Messy Middle Moments Matter

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