The Muddle in the Middle
I have a confession to make. And, I apologize in advance to all my reading and writing friends who thought you knew me and will now be forced to rethink whether to admit that you’ve ever once asked me for editing advice.
When I read, I sometimes jump ahead to the end.
I know. I said I was sorry. I can’t help it. It’s a sickness.
I don’t read much. A page or two at most. Just enough to make sure that the characters I’ve grown to know and love survive to the end. If they all get killed off, why waste the emotional energy to keep reading through all the turmoil? I just want to know that the good guy wins and the bad guy gets his. Once I’ve got that sorted out, then I can settle in and enjoy the ride.
So, that may explain why just now, stuck as we are in the no-there-is-still-no-news-yes-I-know-it-has-been-a-long-time MIDDLE of this adoption process I have been contemplating taking something just a wee bit stronger than Tylenol PM to get me through the night. Can a sister get a hook up? Seriously.
I so desperately want to skip ahead to the end of the story. I want to know that we will survive this journey. I want to know that Pacman* will survive this journey. My heart is literally breaking for this little boy. Abandoned. Vulnerable. Desperately needing to belong, to be loved. How long must he wait? He needs a family. We need a little boy. Seems a relatively easy plot line, right?
In novel writing, middles are notoriously difficult. They must link the call to adventure in the beginning to the resolution at the end. Middles contain all those tests and trials that are meant to build character. I love reading a good middle – the more suspense the better. (So long as I know it all turns out okay at the end.) I’m always encouraging my writing students to add more difficulties, more problems, more tension. In story, conflict equals excitement. In real life, not so much fun.
Not only are we stuck in the middle, we are stuck in a SLOW middle. I’d be getting bored if it weren’t so desperately heartbreaking. Just when I think I can’t slog through another day of waiting, guess what? Another day of waiting. “Pace of story too slow.” “Needs some action.” I was hoping for a hi-lo adventure. Instead I fear we’ve landed in a Victorian epic. A long, drawn out treatise with lots of sighs and a fair amount of whining (mine).
The middle is hard. Hard, hard, tear-my-hair-out hard.
But I will believe – even when I’m crying and whining and asking “are we there YET?” and “how much longer?” – that God has this story well in hand. He’s the author. He knows this struggle through the middle, and he’s right here with us. He knows about the bureaucratic red tape and the unanswered emails and the months-long delays. And what’s more, He’s right there in the middle with Pacman. In the quiet loneliness of nighttime at the orphanage, He is there. When Pacman watches others meet their forever families while he is left behind, God is there. When Pacman wonders if he will ever again be loved or belong, God is there. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Yes, God knows our middle, but even better, God knows how it resolves. He’s even given us a sneak peek at the end – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt 5:4); “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you” (John 14:18); “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
The middle is hard. The end is joy-filled. The middle is slow. The end is perfectly timed. The middle is filled with turmoil. The end is redeemed.
* Not his real name. Although it is catchy.
Kristi Thompson lives, laughs, counsels, and writes (www.collierbooks.com) in Louisville, KY, with her husband, Trent, and their daughter Sam. After three year of working for Child Protective Services, six years of serving on short-term mission trips to Mexico and a job lay-off scare, they felt led to add a little boy from Lesotho to the family. Follow the journey at Praying Him Home.