Often, I feel like a “middleman”. I am the “perfect” middle child, third of four in my biological family, fifth of seven in my blended family. I am the ultimate “peacemaker”, never wanting to “stir the waters” or “ruffle any feathers”. Because of that vantage point of life, I have inevitably found myself smack dab in the center of many trials over the years. Being in the middle of hardship can be frustrating, defeating and depressing. In the past, when I would find myself going through a challenge, I would wallow, sit idly and sadly alone, and feel sorry for myself. I am finding now though, as I walk through the “mucky times”, that I simply need to sit and be present in the middle of it all, observe, pray and “be still”. I need to find purpose and power by staying exactly where I am, even when it is hard and uncomfortable.
In the last blog post, Sharon talked about “abiding”, and there is so much to that.
She and I both have found ourselves engaged and curious about the idea of “cocooning”, the time when the caterpillar climbs into a dark cave or nest, similar to being wrapped-tight in a blanket. To simply wait out the struggles of change and growth, to rest in that darkness, to trust and be confident that the beautiful change and revelation of newness is coming, has great purpose even if it takes as long as a season. It is a certainty for the caterpillar, that it WILL become the butterfly. It simply has to stay in that dark place and wait it out.
There is quiet meaning in staying awake and aware in the “through” part of a struggle. When we say we are “going through” something difficult, we can tend to say it in a melancholy, wallowing, feeling-sorry-for-ourselves manner. But what if we flip that perspective over, and decide there is great purpose in the “through” parts of our lives? We will all go through challenging situations in our lives- times of loss, grief, illness, financial strain, relational challenges, emotional stress and more- it is inevitable as a human being. But what if we decide to “get cozy” inside the cocoons of life? What if we embrace our painful and uncomfortable situations and trust that there is always purpose in our pain? What if we stay awake to it, allow ourselves to feel what doesn’t feel good, look it in the eye, and go forward even in the hard, knowing and expecting that it is an opportunity for growth, learning, developing muscles of resiliency? What if we realize that what we gain by staying put and allowing ourselves to face that struggle head on, what we will have to offer to others after having gone through it?
The Bible says in our weaknesses we are strong. When Paul was in deep suffering he said, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10). I recently read that “pain puts us in good company”. I see that to mean that when we are hurting, struggling, striving for better or to get through something, it makes us so weak that we reach for Jesus even more. It brings us to the beautiful opportunity of partnering with God. What an honor, what a joy, what significance to our pain. In the song, “Be Still”, by Hillsong, the lyrics say, “Be still and trust, what the Lord has said is done. Find rest, don’t strive, watch as faith and grace align.” Jesus never promised that we wouldn’t have difficulty in this world. As a matter of fact, He said, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
So, ladies, my point today is to “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3). Might I even go so far as to suggest that it is an honor that you are placed in the position to become more intimate with God through your neediness? Jesus offers us strength, fuel and peace for the journey. He offers us light that shines in the darkness. Maybe try this perspective: Next time you find yourself in the middle of a “cocooning season”, take notice, face it head on, and walk on through with full expectation of the “butterfly results” that you will find on the other side.