I have been contemplating the beautiful language my therapist used on Monday to describe the place between the two narratives that we tell ourselves as we come to grips with the parts of life that aren’t as they should be. She called this place “the messy middle,” and talked passionately about wanting to come alongside people to help them realize we can make a place at the table for things that won’t be made right. We don't have to let our trauma become our identity as sometimes happens with the “I’m broken” narrative, nor do we have to deny that we have pain and sadness with the “I’m all good” narrative. The third way is the middle space, where we accept that our pain isn’t fully fixed, but rather it is carried.
I realized through this conversation that I had subconsciously been trying to figure out a way to get rid of my sadness and pain about certain things in my past that have affected me as a person and as a mother. My place on the continuum between “I’m broken” and “I’m all good” was the point that says “I’ll solve this.” I knew I was more than the broken parts of me, and I wasn’t trying to pretend everything was okay. But deep down, I believed there was actually a way to shed the pain and sadness, to fix it or to move beyond it. Once things were made right, we would all be on our way to true healing.
What the therapist helped me see is that this place at the table for things that won’t be made right is a place with no shame. It doesn’t diminish me. I am no less capable to do what God has called me to do. Yes, I am sad. I carry pain. I carry things that aren’t fixable. But I am a strong woman whose identity is based on how God sees me.
The other thing my therapist said is that meaningfully integrating God’s truth with our own truth is what she believes to be the truth that sets us free. My take on that idea is this:
My story, just as it happened, matters. God isn't rewriting my story. He is taking my story, as is, and making it part of a larger story.
What a thankful thought.