After my daughter’s death, I recall telling my grief counselor that I knew I would eventually be ok, but I didn’t like the process of getting there.

Getting there.  It meant laborious work, buckets of tears, and a plethora of pain.  I wanted to skip that part.  I just wanted things to be ok again. But there was no way around it.  I had to go through the journey of dealing with my loss and hurt if I wanted to truly experience healing.  I had to live those moments in the middle.

A friend once shared that she liked middles.  As I pondered her statement, I began to realize that we often overlook the middle.  Most of life is spent celebrating beginnings and endings.  We celebrate the birth of a child.  We celebrate retirements.  We even celebrate the end of a hard week at work.  But have you ever heard of celebrating being in the middle of something?  We tend to equate being in the middle with being stuck… and who wants to celebrate that!

But what about those delectable middles found in an Oreo cookie or chocolate éclair? And what about being nestled in the middle of my kids as they curl up with me in bed?  Or being wrapped in the middle of a warm blanket during a nap on a cold rainy day.  The middle is what gives substance to the beginnings and the endings.  The middle is where we meet everyday life.  But the middle is not always a happy place.

The grief we experience after the loss of a loved one begins at a specific moment in time. It’s an unwelcomed and uninvited guest that changes our reality. And although there’s no definitive ending to our grief, there is a transformation in the form of healing that takes place. The middle is that part where we experience the range of emotions that rage within us.  But trudging through the middle is a necessary part of reaching the other side – the side when we find laughter and joy.

When I began to the embrace the middle, I began to live life again.  I was able to see the good in my daughter’s all-too-short life.  I could see purpose and meaning. I was able to celebrate little victories like finding something for which to be thankful. I was able to experience God’s comfort and grace in new ways that overwhelmed me with His love. It was in the middle of that difficult journey that I found the joy in living again.

Grief can be a scary, uncomfortable and messy place.  But God extends an offer to carry the load for us.  He invites us to cry out to Him. He promises His comfort and peace when we’re willing to accept it.  I invite you to run to Him and experience the healing that only He can bring.

Embrace the middle as you walk with Him.  The work is hard, but the reward is great.

Cindy Shufflebarger 2011

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Cindy Shufflebarger

Cindy Shuffelbarger is the author of Dancing in the Rain: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Storm and speaks to women’s groups on various topics related to grief, joy, and faith. She experienced the death of her infant daughter in 2006. In addition to writing and speaking, Cindy enjoys photography, traveling, scrapbooking and quiet walks in the park. A registered dietitian with degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University and James Madison University, she now runs a women’s ministry to encourage others in their journey of faith. Cindy resides with her husband and children in the suburbs of Richmond, VA and finds her greatest challenge and reward as a homeschooling mom of three.

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