As uncharacteristic of me, this New Year’s Eve, I’m not thinking of beautiful endings or exciting beginnings. I should be, maybe. I mean, the end of the month, finishing the year…a time to reflect on the things in my life that ended and changed. And the beginning of a new month, the start of a new year…a chance to hope, dream, and plan. But for me, this holiday is about the middle. I sit here thinking about the end and yet, looking toward the future. I’m stuck in the middle.
And I don’t like the middle. I should have loads of optimism and chutzpah as I approach 2012. I should look at this journey with fresh eyes, bright and beautiful. January 1 is like the first day of school. You’re wearing the new outfit you laid out the night before. Your backpack is organized, clean, filled with sharpened pencils and new gel pens. You have good intentions of being a better student. You actually say out-loud that you’re going to study 3 hours for every hour of lecture. The beginning is hopeful, full of possibilities.
I want to be hopeful and optimistic, but I can’t because I am still in December. And so I’m tired, worn out, and realistic. I’m a tad more cynical than I was 12 months ago. I haven’t forgotten about the struggles, the pain, the hurt. I am in the middle. And I don’t like the middle. It’s exhausting, monotonous, and often times lonely.
In the beginning of winter, there is excitement as the first few snowflakes fall. But as the season continues, the freshness wears out, and not even a mug of hot cocoa can make the forecast better. Winter seems to last forever. And it takes much effort to remind yourself that someday those bare branches will have green leaves and the frozen ground will turn to a lawn of luscious green grass.
When you’re in the middle, there isn’t much that can be done to make the time go quicker. You want to get to the end, the place where you’re a better person. Where the beginning and middle refined you and made you wiser and more patient. The end is resolution. But when you’re in the middle, there’s not much worse than the middle. The middle is filled with good and bad. And neither last forever. In those sweet moments, you must breathe deep and savor. In those bitter moments, you must practice believing in springtime.
I cannot make the big ball in Times Square drop any quicker. I cannot make spring come any sooner. And I cannot remove myself from the middle.
The middle is where I am. I feel like it’s abstract and I can’t grab ahold of anything. I feel like there is nothing touchable near my grasp. The middle is like a dream…a terrible dream that doesn’t end. But I can’t check out. The middle is where I am. Despite my feelings, my cynicism, my fears, and my hopes, I am here. In the middle. And I believe that the end will find me a deeper, stronger, better person…one who loves unconditionally and gives without attaching strings. So instead of vacating my life, I am going to choose to engage. In this weird, intangible season, not really December anymore, but not yet January, I am choosing to stay. I will not relinquish my duties. I will not quit my calling. I may not be bright-eyed, but I’m not blind. I may be bruised, but I’m not shattered. So in this place, this middle, I simply will be. Because it’s not forever.
So I’m going to be present. I’m going to love deeply from the heart. I’m going to give until it hurts, and then I’m going to give some more. I’m going to ask questions. I’m going to dream. I’m going to write, sing, and paint. And peace will fill my soul. Because the Prince of peace dwells in me…in each season. Abstract, ugly, uncertain, and scary…He stays with me here in the middle.