Let’s hurry up and wait, or “shooting to the middle” have always been phrases I’ve known to mean mediocrity as a goal. An average of sorts, which argues a point of minimum. This is to say, if the minimum weren’t enough it wouldn’t be the minimum. However, the point which is also to be illustrated is the overall aspirations or goals in life are to be the best at whatever we attempt. One thing I’ve found over the years is just how much patience, effort, and luck I need to have in order accomplish whatever goal or dream I have. Often times I have a tremendous amount of energy at the beginning of any endeavor, but as time begins to sit upon my goals, and inevitably becomes heavier, I’ve found maintaining course becomes more difficult as the seconds tick. I think this would be a similar experience for most people, which is another reason we marvel at those who’ve seemingly moved past those barriers which tempt us to move forward, but keep us mired in the middle. Haven’t you ever wanted to be something like an athlete or author, someone who accomplishes the perceived impossible or very difficult? I know for a period of time, I was always trying to do one thing or another, and as usual I got where I was either bored, indifferent, dejected, or plain frustrated with many things I attempted without a true understanding of expectations as results and time were key considerations. Furthermore, those failures began to mount in my life and by themselves amounted to very little, but at as a lifetime of failure and mediocrity stacked up, I hesitated to look at because of its size and imposition in my life. So everything I failed at or seemed to fail at, was cast aside and became my mountain of problems.
I was clearly shooting to the middle, I was hurrying up to wait, rather than taking in the path life was giving me. I confess, this is always still an issue with me, I have to tell myself to slow down, be patient, and not to expect unrealistic results. Which is to say, I’m like everyone else, and my frustrations in life are usually a manifestation of poor planning, poor expectations, and generally poor results. No matter what anyone of us does, we can usually never overcome poor planning. I once had a colleague who would opine the phrase, “poor planning on your part, doesn’t make an emergency for me” and although he never used it towards me, be anecdotally would tell me about how I needed to be on top of my duties and yet maintain a proper pace. The pace being of course to have the stamina to finish the race. Nothing looks or feels worse than the bravado to begin a race, but not having the endurance to finish because we have all tried to bite off more than we could chew. We were either completely unprepared, perhaps we were foolish in an attempt to cast something off as easy and is anything but easy. All in all, we mostly reside in the middle, because our fantastical notions are what I refer to as the “theory of best intent”, this is to say, and when we think of things coming to fruition, very rarely do we see the most extreme negative. We don’t look for the worst case scenario when planning, because somehow this seems to defeat our efforts even before we begin. However, much like an unbalanced load, when we over-correct often times we are still a little over-balanced. Failing to be balanced, will still create a stress because we fail to properly take in the full scope of whatever we are attempting to do. So instead of realizing the pitfalls to any idea, we assume the bravado of green light and great outcomes, and this gives us wind in our sails, and the perceived energy to approach the task at hand. For me, this usually means failing to think out the small details, and those are usually what kill my plans, or at least the details are what prevent me from moving forward. Think of them like prerequisites for a class, you need those details to line up, in order to give you the best shot at success in your goals.
A proper balance in life, is what allows us to operate most efficiently. If you visualize the word, “balance” you might come up with images like someone trying to walk a tight-rope, maybe the scales of justice, or even an experience in your life which flashes images of and improper balance causing you tremendous angst and frustration. Which is where I’m headed with all of this, surprised? Shooting to the middle, is a great indication of improper balance in our planning, execution, and delivery as it pertains to whatever we attempt to do. Marriage is a wonderful example of two people needing the balance to withstand the storms which crash upon them like waves on a beach. By balancing the relationship and paying attention to those details, they are better suited to tackle those challenges life hands to them. For a couple to be unevenly yoked, it means, one will carry a heavier burden while the other doesn’t feel the strain of the increased weight. When this happens, the one with most of the weight will eventually collapse under the pressure. It’s not a matter of if, but when they will collapse and whatever they have on their shoulders at the time of the fall will determine the extent of the damage. When this occurs, you can almost assuredly trace back behaviors and actions which laud the race to the middle.
They raced to be in a relationship, sometimes not taking the time to figure out just what this meant to be committed to another person. Then they raced to marriage, making a lifetime commitment to each other and hopefully to God, and yet still they didn’t grasp the relative weight which was set upon them. Finally, they raced to the middle in hopes to begin a family still not comprehending the gravity of the weight which now lay upon them. A relationship, a marriage, a family, all of which if are done by one, become a mountain seeking to drain us of energy and hope. However, if we seek to move past the proverbial middle, we must share this load. Essentially, the weight of family and responsibilities is tremendous, but with another by our side, we only carry half, but with the passion to carry it all. If both proceed with this fervor towards their relationship, then over time, we find we can move up this mountain in lock step, and accomplish the most enormous goals.
In a relationship, when one or both members realize they no longer want the responsibility which they’ve chosen, because of their fear of hurt or because of their apathy, they inadvertently cause the other, who may have suspicions when they notice an unbalanced life, to deal with everything. A lonely existence when you may be the only one who seems to care or want the relationship. This becomes compounded when going through the motions takes on a gravity all by itself, and so being in the middle becomes a practice of apathy and unbalanced decisions.
Look at all the relationships we see where divorce was a surprise or even and inevitability, I’m sure in some cases we can look and see the signs of the doomed relationship, well before its end. They shot to the middle and burned out because they couldn’t sustain a never-ending battle. No person takes on a goal, realistically, in the hopes it will never end. They don’t look at a race and hope it is infinite in its distance so they never reach the finish line. Well, relationships are a lot like this, we need goals, and we need to see these goals realized. Either in growing the family, career pursuits, home creation, and faith practices. Whatever the goal is, it needs to be realized at one point or another, or we will just burn out. If we are always in the middle, we never see it realized and we become dejected by failure. Sometimes, the push to the middle is a matter of exceptional perspective, this is to say, having a realistic expectation of our reality is the most important step in attaining a realistic goal. If I’m a farmer in Kansas, then being the director of the United Nations isn’t a realistic goal when it comes to making decisions about my life. Likewise, being in a relationship should never consist of goals for the other person, but rather goals for ourselves to attain. Perhaps it’s a matter of increasing our prayer life, maybe to put our spouse’s needs in front of our own, it could just be to call our significant other and let them know we’re thinking about them and hope they have a better day than the one before. The point here is, when we create goals focused on someone else, it never turns out particularly good, it may even end up a matter of manipulation to make another do as we would like eventually creating a rift or distrust between spouses. Personally, I like me, and I want my wife to like me. She doesn’t always agree with me, and I don’t always agree with her, but at the end of the day, we are both trying to be better for our relationship and for each other and in our efforts, we stumble and fall a lot, but the spirit is there to carry the load together. Knowing this about her gives me energy to move past the middle and see to goals I’m currently working on. I’m impatient, loud, and sometimes angry, I don’t listen like I should, I have more faults than you have time to read, but the point is I know she is working on a similar list and as we work together, when detours threaten to take us off course we work together to remove the anxiety and deal with the issue.
I can only imagine what single parents must feel on a daily basis, the loneliness is magnified, because there is no longer anyone to share the load of familial responsibility, and there is no balance. The work is all on them to accomplish a task created for two. That’s right! God, created this task for man and woman, we complement each other. Contrary to the media’s belief men and women are different, we have strengths and weaknesses which when we prepare properly can be used to the advantage of the family, and in doing so become the will of God in practice. The family becomes greater than the sum of our parts, in business this has been referred to synergy by some, but in the family this should be referred to a love. Love in its most pure form has one look, unselfish desire to wish the best for everyone regardless of station or action. In our culture today, this pure form of God’s gift has been diluted to focus on the emotive side of an action as the confirmation of rightness. Problem is, when we dilute love, we shoot to the middle. We’ve created a society based on feelings, rather than truth. This society of feelings or middle dwellers shames us for what is impermissible and yet everything is permissible. The problem we all run into is when we don’t seek the objective truth, or rather when we choose to stay in the middle, we accept failure as the new currency of relationships. Don’t get me wrong, we all fail, and we all find ways to mess everything up, but as a matter of course for learning what and what not to do so we can finally reach our goals. Too often now, it’s stated we should all be winners, but it’s ok if you want to accept failure. It’s not ok, it never has been ok.
For those of us who may have been divorced at one point or another, can we take a true look back at our actions and find where we may hold the blame in a relationship? Did we have poor expectations, going into the relationship? Did we expect too much from them without giving the same in return? Were we mature enough to handle the relationship properly? Did we allow our selfish nature to make decisions for us, and in turn destroy trust and the ability to be balanced? These are questions I’ve asked myself in the past, and honestly, I was ashamed of my answers. Truthfully, when I was honest with myself, I failed all of them. I made my spouse carry the load and in doing so, created an environment where we could never stay on course because we veered from one thing to another. She could only do so much, and I wanted her to do everything, I was a bastard to my everlasting shame. I will report, we are the best we’ve ever been. We recognized we needed to rethink everything, we needed to redo everything, to tear down the unbalanced structure of our lives’ and start over. This was very hard, but not as hard as it would have been to do it all alone. Don’t mistake my innocuous statement of hard as just a single word of single description. It was so hard, we argued, we fought, we battled over everything. We were two titans with an agenda, and we weren’t going to be denied. Then like a body of water in turmoil, it was as if a cleansing oil of salvation calmed us down. We found a true starting point. God, was this point. We, in our own ways began to come closer to the God who created us and we embraced this, we prayed together and this further began to bond us. Our shared faith began to yoke us evenly and we found purpose, a goal of sorts, to work towards. We found self-reflection as a matter of course and no longer were we focused on fixing the other person, but we found egotistical shrinkage of ourselves as we began to chip away at the façade of sin we surrounded ourselves with. As of today, we are more focused on the love we need rather than the desires we want. This doesn’t make us perfect in any way though. My wife knows I’m stubborn and hard to deal with at times, and yet she still finds a way to love me, she finds a way to accept me, an emulation of Christ Himself. Christ who loves me, and accepts me as who I am, but doesn’t accept my poor actions and selfish behavior. Christ doesn’t accept the middle, the lukewarm behavior. Hot or cold, but no middle.
So, if you’ve read this far, know this, you must move past the middle in your life. The devil looks for this complacency in our lives and wishes to capitalize on our willingness to embrace our dreadful results. Don’t give him the opportunity, move past the middle, move past you. Take the time to focus on what you’re doing, and don’t jump into something without having a clearer understanding of who you are and what you want. Don’t waste the life of another, because you’re unwilling to move past the middle. If you are at a point in your life where everything seemingly is falling around you, stop for a second, pray, and then regroup. If you need to tear everything down to the foundation, then do so, but this time build it right, take your time, don’t race to the middle, but instead be patient with your spouse be willing to understand who they are and how you fit into their lives. If they are the middle dweller, patiently bring them in the path and teach them love. Love isn’t something we all can just do, it’s something we must learn at times, it is something we must accept, even when accepting it means we might just be on the short-list of unrealized expectations. Move past the middle, be willing to accept we can’t change other people, but we can work on ourselves and be better spouses, fathers, brothers, friends, and faithful. Through our examples we have a great chance of becoming the reflective light of Christ and influencing those whom we love the most! May God bless you and your family!!!
God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!