Cattails, Rabbit Trails, and Thistlefish: Learning to Share Our Stories in the "Middles"

Friday, December 9, 2016

Learning to Share Our Stories in the "Middles"

I am learning that I like having things figured out before I start anything.
(Both my mom and my husband are probably going, "No kidding!")
It took me weeks and weeks before I started Thistlefish Knits just because my brain was filled with "what if's," and I realized I just didn't want the embarrassment of not knowing what to do.

I am afraid to fail. (whew, I said it; there it is.)

But I'm learning how important it is sometimes to just push aside fear and "go for it."
I'm also learning about how important it is to share your story and your life before you've figured out everything. Like, sharing it while you're in the middle, in that weird portion of the story when you really have no idea how anything is going to turn out.

I feel like I'm not the only person in a "middle." In fact, I know I'm not the only person in a "middle."
At first I thought it was just a natural part of being a college student, and not having a clue what was going to happen after school in terms of "adult life" and a career, because it seems like every college student I talk to has a shrug in response to the question "what do you want to do after college?"

But now I'm finding even adults - people older than me who I thought had everything figured out - don't always know what's going on. Life is a constant cycle of beginnings and ends, but between those two places - always - there is a "middle."
While there are times that "middle" is great, often they're uncomfortable. They can be long, spacious, heavy, confusing, disappointing, tempting impatience, and simply not fun.

"Middles" can also be happening during beginnings and ends, too. (i.e., I just got married (beginning) but I haven't finished school (middle).)

But middles are important to share, because you're not the only one that's in one. There is nothing new under the sun; we all may be unique, but we are all the same. We are all asking similar questions and seeking similar things.

All that to say,
I want to encourage you if you are in a middle.
If you are waiting, if you feel stuck, if you are frustrated.
If you feel like where you are and what you're doing doesn't even matter because you cannot present it to the world "wrapped in a bow."
If you feel like everything is messy and not "Instagram worthy."
If you feel like you are the only one that is in a "middle."

All of us are in a middle of some sorts.
Not one of us can say that we have everything figured out,
not one of us knows exactly how our story will begin, progress and end,
and not one of our lives looks like the perfectly-aesthetic Instagram feed every day.

I'm so tired of feeling like I'm the only one that feels like her life is messy on the inside. I'm so tired of feeling like I'm going to be even more isolated if I let on that my life isn't permanently pretty. I'm so tired of believing the lie that the only way to experience community or companionship or affection is to be perfect.

Jon was talking about community once, and told me that "transparency provides the opportunity for greater intimacy."
I've been thinking about that phrase, and I believe it's true. Transparency doesn't always lead to intimacy, because transparency also gives people a chance to leave, to change their mind about you, to decide that you're "too real."
But transparency also provides the opportunity for open arms, for forgiveness, for relationship, for a "me too!" for the invisible standard of perfection to be shattered and authenticity to reign as the new normal.

I experienced this first hand in my new friendship when I stepped out with a grain of courage and shared something hard I had been going through.
And the coolest thing happened! She responded with "I'm so glad I'm not the only one!"
What a sweet, sweet, thing to hear.
I don't have anything in particular to share, I have just been reflecting on how sad it is that we - especially us women - feel embarrassed about our "middles," about our unfinished stores.
It's also a reflection of Kaitlyn's post about being discouraged seeing everyone's finished stories while she is/was in the messy middle, and inspired by a new podcast I found by Jacque Watkins called Mud Stories, where she talks about experiences in the "muddiness of life," or, "middles." (I recommend checking out both).

But it's also a sermon to myself, to be real, to share, and to stop believing the lie that I will only experience authentic relationship once I'm perfect.
Relationship doesn't wait for perfection; it waits for transparency and honesty.

And I don't want to present my life here on my little space of internet like I have it figured out. I never want ya'll to read my words and hear perfection. I want to be your girl friend that you can get coffee with and know that she is going to be just as real with you as you are with her; the gal pal that you can rely on to be real, and gritty-honest, and tell you exactly what she's processing.

Know that that is my heart, and that I'm learning how to share it more here. And I'm hoping this is a place that you can come and experience a sigh of relief, a weight off your shoulders, and a "I'm so glad I'm not the only one."

What has your experience been with "middles"?
What "middle" are you in right now?
P.S., If you missed it, my post on Monday about college is also me trying to share my "middles."

Linking up with some awesome parties here!



  1. This is such a great post. I always feel like I'm in the middle of something. Yes there are beginnings and I can look back at endings, but most of life is lived in the middle.

  2. We all have those middle stories that will one day be told if we just get over the fear. Thanks for this reminder, Casey and for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

  3. I love this :) There's a really wonderful thing about being in the middle of things. You're not where you were but yet, not where you want to be BUT right where God wants you. We have to just remember to enjoy the moment and be IN it instead of ahead or behind it. I used to try and get ahead of myself (And God) ALL the time but I'm learning to enjoy the day I'm in. Coming to you from the RaRa LinkUp!

  4. I love this!! As someone who is currently also in the "middle" of a lot of things, this really spoke to me! And it is always comforting to know you're not the only one feeling/thinking/going-through something! Thanks for sharing at the Grace + Lace Linkup!

  5. Casey, this blog is a place where I can go to and feel like I am not the only one. I can come here and relax because you are real and honest, and I love that. I too am learning to let go of my perfection and be vulnerable. I am in the middle of a big middle right now, and your post spoke to me in so many ways. Thank you for being willing to be real and honest! Middles aren't fun, but I am finding that they are exactly where we need to be sometimes because that is where God grows us.

    Thank you so much for linking up at Grace + Lace!

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