What about small middles?


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I have a love-hate relationship with this phrase : Don’t despise the days of small beginnings.

Here is the part I love: Small beginnings can have big endings. You know, the whole thing about a small acorn holding within it a big oak tree.

Here is the part I hate: What happens when the “beginning” was ten years ago?

What if we are in the middle and it is still small? No resources, no recognition and no growth at the beginning is expected. Things take time…but eventually time passes and we can’t really say we are in the beginning anymore.

Nope, we are smack in the middle now. Some of us still find ourselves with no resources, no recognition and no growth. I’m gonna be honest here.

I despise the days of small middles.

It’s just not fair.

Maybe you dream of being a photographer and started taking pictures a few years ago as a side gig until you had enough business to do it full time. Now, its five years later, you are still taking pictures and working that second job because the photo business isn’t growing the way you hoped.

Perhaps your marriage and family life started out rocky. You poured your time and energy into improving it. Years later, here you are. Still struggling with the same hurdles.

That vintage resale business you launched on Instagram last year has made you a total of $50 over the course of 12 months. Why is there so little to show for your passion and hard work?

As if our small middle wasn’t bad enough, there always seems to be someone who started after we did that has already passed us up. The blogger who got a book deal after a year, the pastor who grew his church to thousands in no time flat, and the entreprenur who seems to know exactly which houses to flip.

Then comes the dread.

Am I not as gifted as I thought? Did I miss my calling? Do people see me as a failure? Why is everyone else gaining ground and I can’t get traction to save my life?

Fear and insecurity come in to rob any hope we have left.

Yeah, maybe some people are pursuing the wrong thing. I could work 24 hours a day to become a great singer, but that ship will never sail. Chasing the wrong dream may be some people’s problem, but I think it is more the exception than the rule.

So, why shouldn’t we be discouraged by our small middles?Β 

No matter how much planning we have done or how visionary we are, we don’t see the entire picture. Our lives are always part of something bigger than we know.

I’ll be honest with you – I am smack in the middle of small middles in so many areas. It is painful, frustrating and down-right embarrassing sometimes. The other day I was feeling particularly annoyed at my little middle when I remembered one of my favorite Bible verses:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

The plans for my life are beyond what I am aware of. Maybe what I am creating goes deeper than I knew it could and roots take time to grow in order to support great things eventually. Or perhaps the things that are being produced aren’t as obvious as my measuring tools would like.

To all of you reading who are in the middle of a small and unimpressive middle – I see you and I get it.

I see the dreams that are waiting to come out and the vision just itching to be lived. The desperate hope that you will be able to pull it off and become something grander that you are now. The deep belief that somehow you are more than meets the eye at the moment.

You are.

You are far more than can be seen right now. Don’t worry if there isn’t much to show yet. Things are happening – going deeper and broader than you are aware. The intangibles might be weaving themselves together behind the scenes. In 20 years you may look back and realize that this – this seemingly small middle – was actually where the most growth happened.

This is where you chose to dig in your heels and believe that you were made for something bigger.

Because you are.Β 

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Filed under Faith, Fire, something bigger, Whimsy

23 responses to “What about small middles?

  1. Remember 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV). Hang in there…

  2. Don’t know your middles, but I do know mine. I’m thankful for the reminder that He knows our middles too–and doesn’t see them that way! Thanks, Liz! πŸ™‚

  3. Holy Moly. I just saw I had a new follower on twitter… I think to myself, “oh cool! I’m going to check out her link”. And Bam. Sometimes God has a way of smacking you in the face with something you need to hear. Honestly, this hit me in the moment where I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing all wrong and trying to be content with the fact that He does, but failing at that. So thank you. For following me on twitter. And for posting these words that needed to be heard.

    • Well, I’m glad I followed you then Jenni! I stalked your blog a tad after you left this comment. I absolutely love your art. Plus, I lived in Seattle for 6 years and a piece of my heart is still in that part of the country. Although you are in Canada which is a different country entirely. Thanks for reading and I’m glad we met.

  4. love this and believe it all the way. I feel like itΒ΄s always the middle and then back to the beginning only to find the middle yet again. but never giving up, there has to be a finish line at some point, no?

    • Oh, so true. I feel like I live in beginnings and middles. Maybe because we are viewing the finish line the wrong way. I think sometimes that we pass so many finish lines because we expect them to look differently.

  5. Small beginnings and small middles are all relative. When we focus on the big picture, sometimes we sidestep the small victories and things that improve our lives, but perhaps don’t transform it. For another your small beginning might be a great big and brave leap. I know it’s easy for people to encourage us not to compare ourselves to people, but I know for one, that I am not wired that way. It’s always a “who is doing what and how successful are they” game. But keeping in mind the perspective that all things are relative to our lives does help me.

    • That’s true. All of it is relative and we have to remember that. So, I read your bio and it says that you are freakishly tall. Now I am curious what exactly counts as “freakishly tall”?

      • Sorry just saw this question now. I’m not abnormally tall, but my co-workers have always made a big deal about it. 5’11” doesn’t sound as impressive now does it. πŸ™‚

  6. Thank you, thank you! These words hit home big time. Thank you!
    cate b

  7. lifeforhumans

    Must have read this 3 times already, its always important to remind ourselves that just because our vision is not coming to pass right away, does not mean its not going to happen eventually.

  8. I actually just wrote about this too! But I really needed to hear this. I’m in the middle too and it’s so frustrating. I’m tired and I doubt myself all of the time. But I’m still in the middle.

  9. Sheree Griffin

    Oh. my. goodness. That’s all I can say. I am in so many small middles: career-that-I-wish-were-more-like-ministry, parenting, fostering-adopting,writing that blog that rolls around in my brain every.single.day. Yea, I’m there, thanks for verbalizing for me. Btw, if you are in the hill country, we were on the edge last weekend, Baylor country to be exact. Maybe coffee the next time we are there, or CUB for a Sunday morning meet up. If not, then I have forgotten which part of the great State you are in, sorry.

  10. Great Write Up. !! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  11. Well forever more!!! You hit my nail on the head Elizabeth. I am not enjoying the ‘middle’ I’m in and you cannot even know the encouragement you have given me today!! Really! You can’t!! Have you ever heard the story about the bamboo plant? It so fits with this ‘middle’ season of life thing. The complex network of the root system of a bamboo plant is phenomenal before there is one tiny green shoot above ground; then suddenly and almost overnight the shoot grows into a great and tall strong plant that multiplies and is virtually unstoppable. Oh yeah! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!! Thank you Elizabeth! I have had defeated-almost-giving-up-thoughts off and on over the last 2 1/2 years; then continually and just at the right time God reminds me that it is He who has placed us strategically in His will and purpose and that I can trust Him before I see the desired outcome. “Despise not small middles!” Love it and love you!! πŸ™‚
    Mama Jeannie

  12. I love this. Life is so much more than the monetary things. But the necessities of life can distract us all too quickly. Some struggle with money, others with health, others with addiction…I guess we all have our thorns. Love your insight!

  13. I’m 17 ! I read this and it really touched me. It’s just amazing!!!
    Thank you !

  14. Jennifer at Purposeful Nutrition shared this post with me as I talked about my seemingly stagnant station in life. Things keep changing but I still seem to be stuck in the same place. thank you for this heartfelt post that spoke to me as if your knew all that I’m struggling with at this “small middle” in my life. If you want to read my post, it’s “Go Forth from the Fourth” thank you!

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