Beginning something is exciting. Ending it is satisfying. The middle, however, is often less desirable. By the time we are in the middle of a marathon we have lost most of the energy we had at the beginning; yet we still have some way to go before reaching the glorious finishing line.
Seasons related to the middle do not attract much positivity either. 'Midlife crisis' and 'middle child syndrome' are things we would like to avoid experiencing. After all, God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, but is He the God of the middle too?
The thing about being in the middle is this—everything seems slow or even at a standstill when we are in the middle of something. At this point of our journey we are usually doing the things we do because we need to and not because we find joy in doing them.
When we begin to pursue our studies, the first year of being an undergraduate is usually fresh and full of new things. University activities, hostel life and the thrill of finally pursuing our own choice of study fill us with energetic vigour.
As we enter our second year, we begin to settle down and by now have an established routine. We are now familiar with lectures, tutorials, assignments, exams and other events. Paying rentals and cleaning the hostel becomes a repetitive chore.
If we are not careful, everything starts to become mundane when we are in the middle of the whole process. There is nothing wrong in dutifully fulfilling our commitments and doing what has to be done, but when we are too familiar with it we forget how meaningful things are supposed to be.
When I first became a stay-at-home mum, being able to enjoy breakfast with my son was something I looked forward to! I would eagerly prepare homemade meals I was not able to make when I was working.
Now, two years later, preparing meals for the family can become more of a need than a want. Instead of appreciating what I do for the family, as I used to in the beginning, it has become familiar. While it should still be a privilege to be able to cook for my family, having done it so many times has made me lose enthusiasm; especially as I yearn for something new.
We are usually driven by what we can do and achieve. Our achievements are often the main representation of who we are. When we are in the middle, there tends to be less doing and action— which is usually unacceptable for us as it reflects unproductivity in our life.
While an English lecturer training teachers-to-be, I felt I was living out God's will in my life as I directed young people to find their purpose. I was challenging them to be the best they could be, knowing they would do the same for their future students.
When I first quit my job to be a stay-at-home mum I enjoyed the time I had with my son and husband. I found joy in finally being a housewife. However, after some time had passed, when I was over the 'newlywed period' of everything being sweet at home, I began to feel like I had lost my purpose in life as I was no longer formally interacting with young people.
My 'doing' was now filled with vacuuming and cleaning the house, washing the laundry, and preparing meals—offering little sense of achievement. There is nothing much to be proud of after completing boring household chores, is there?
Like a student in his second year, I was in the middle of being a stay-at-home mum where all my doings were full of what seemed to be unproductive mundane routines.
However, God is still interested in us, even when we are in the boring middle. This is because we have a God who takes delight in our 'being' more than our 'doing'. When God first created Adam and Eve, He did not create them primarily to be doing things. He made them to have fellowship with Him
While others look at what we do outwardly, God is more interested with who we are inside. Amazingly, the verse in the middle of the Bible is said to be Psalm 118, verse 8 (emphasis added): “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”
Whether we feel like we are stuck in the middle or are making little progress, God is telling us to trust in Him and not people. We do not have to look to mankind's benchmark of what a successful person must achieve, but we should look to what God says about who we are
I have just crossed the middle mark of my second pregnancy. The buzz of the baby has now died down and there is little activity till we celebrate his arrival. Instead of beating myself down for being unproductive, I choose to invest in all God wants me to be as a mum and wife during this time. This includes enjoying the process of exploring new dishes and keeping the household in order together with my son without being overly stressed about the end product
So do not fret being in the middle where nothing seems to be happening. God is in control. Always remember, being who God wants you to be in the middle of it all will eventually result in you achieving what God wants you to do in your life.
First published April 18, 2016
Esther Koh is a stay-at-home mum living in Wellington with her husband and three year old son. She loves people and has a passion for helping others find their purpose for living
Esther Koh's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/esther-koh.html