This week, I was reading a book about Sarah Grimke. Grimke was an active abolitionist and a mother of the women’s suffrage movement. The thing that was striking to me was that Grimke didn’t find her calling until she was in her mid-40s. No longer the society daughter of a wealthy Charleston family, but also not yet the fiery activist we celebrate today, Grimke spent decades in kind of a “middle place.”
This got me thinking about the “middle places” in our lives. We spend a lot of time talking about beginnings. We meditate on how starting something new can make us feel nervous or refreshed or intimidated.
We also spend a lot of time talking about endings – how we don’t always want to let go when the end comes or how something ended too soon. We may talk about how it was a long-awaited end to a tedious project or a welcome end to some sort of suffering.
However, we don’t seem to spend much time talking about the middle. The middle spaces seem to be where we live most of our lives, between one season or another, but the middle gets so little attention. The middle may be where we get tired, or where we want something different to happen. The middle spaces are what ask the most of our spirits; and oftentimes the middle spaces are where we grow the most.
In Philippians, Paul is writing to a church that is stuck in the middle. He says, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring in to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (Phillipians 1:6). This is such a hopeful and encouraging statement. The God who started stirring something good in us, is going to keep stirring. The good that has started in our lives will be seen through to a holy completion. Our time in the middle spaces isn’t wasted, it is necessary formation for something great.
The good that Grimke eventually accomplished was possible because of her time in the middle. We aren’t left in the middle to figure it out on our own, for wholeness, completeness will come. Take heart, keep walking even in the middle, because God is right beside you completing a good work.