Grace for the Middle

I took a small hiatus during Lent away from reading my favorite blogs and even from writing my own in order to get back to the “basics” and feast solely on God’s word alone. It was a “two-step” tango; I would take two steps forward and then one step back, only to repeat again. I wouldn’t claim it a total success but it was needed and refreshing.
My time hop has me all emotional lately, sharing with me pictures of our last days in Ohio before packing up and moving to South Carolina. I cannot believe that it has been a year since we moved, a whole 365 days. Some day I would love to share mine and Nick’s heart in God leading us back to South Carolina, but I’m not sure this blog is the one for that. With so many emotions going through my heart and mind right now, I need a place to leave them.
Moving back to South Carolina was not based on a whim decision for us. It was something we had prayed about it for a couple of years, stayed up many of nights talking about, and even shed many of tears over. I will never forget one August afternoon on our back deck, Nick and I had come up with a game plan of sorts (I’m sure God was laughing because how it all worked out didn’t look anything like our “game plan”). Me being the “type A” person that I am and a planner, I felt better knowing we had some direction. However, being in Ministry is way different than holding a job in the corporate world. We can’t just up and move or change jobs because we want something new or it’s hard, there has to be a release and God calling you to that next thing. At that point even though we had a “game plan,” we felt neither a release nor a calling. And while our hearts longed for South Carolina, our heart of hearts knew that we would rather be in God’s will than living in our own.
Fast Forward 18 months or so, and an opportunity presented itself for Nick to take a job at another UMC in South Carolina located in the exact place we felt God had long been drawing our hearts to. This time it was a true wrestling match. Had this opportunity presented itself just 18 months earlier, we probably would have jumped on it without any questions. However, God’s ways are better than our ways. He knew better than us that we would need that time growing and maturing in ways that I would venture to say would have never happened had we been anywhere else. He also knew that in those months we would experience true, authentic community that would propel us forward and be ingrained in us, so that we could replicate it in our new life in South Carolina.
I feel like much of what we learn is always learned in retrospect, in the looking back. Our first couple of months back in SC were spent doing all the things we had longed dreamed about while living in Ohio. I am pretty sure we drank enough sweet tea to last us a life time and ate our body weight in Groucho’s (in fact, a year later and the thought of Groucho’s doesn’t sound appealing anymore because we ate it so much). Then reality set in; we were lonely and missing our community that we had experienced so much life with. During the moving process, my mind and emotions were set on autopilot. Everything happened so fast that I had no time to process what was happening or even grieve the loss of our life and friends in Ohio, so the grieving process happened much later for me once we had already established our new life here.
Much of my blog posts give nod to change, and that’s probably because it feels like much of my life over the past 7 years has been spent in a constant state of change. If you know us, you know the Cunninghams don’t just experience change in small ways like changing the color of our front door or buying a new car, but we experience change in big ways. For example, in 2015 we moved across multiple states, my husband started a new job and we welcomed a new baby. The hardest part of change is always the middle, the transitioning part from one end to a new beginning. I’ve learned that you can’t rush the middle, it needs as much time and prayer as does any step of faith into a new beginning. I am past the “middle” and I am ready for the new beginning. The book Girl Meets Change has spoken so powerfully into my life during this change and I highly recommend it in whatever stage of change you find yourself in. I’ll leave you with this excerpt from the book on the middle…
“Part of moving from acknowledging to accepting the change in our lives is accepting our need to give ourselves grace through the whole process. Yes, we need grace in the early blur, but we need it in the later middle too. We need it in that middle area that’s less foggy but still murky in that it seems to drag on with no clear indication of what should be done next. We spend much of life in the middle after the calm of transitioning from one end to a new beginning. The middle stretches out in shades of mundane and ordinary…But what we all must do is have the faith to know that even as we can’t see where the end of the middle is, God is endlessly dedicated to seeing us through it. He rains down grace on us through our middle places, and in that grace his timing heals all wounds.” -Kristen Strong, Girl Meets Change pp.72-73


2 thoughts on “Grace for the Middle

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  1. Thank you for these words on being in the middle! They have spoke straight to my soul, as I find myself in my own middle right now. My prayer lately has been… “Lord, help me to be present in the middle, as I get ready to leave behind and let go and as I look forward and take the leap into the future.” The middle for me is always the place where I feel most restless and uncomfortable and my first instinct is to run, to even run from God. So, thank you for the reminder that I need to sit and savor the middle, even when it’s hard, and to give myself grace because God is there in the whole process.


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