The Messy Middle

Jun 20, 2023


 Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. 

Matthew 5:43-48

     It seems like the world has overlooked this verse. In fact, it would appear that most people act in the opposite way. I recently recorded a podcast on belonging. In the podcast, I discussed how often before belonging to a certain group your beliefs and behaviors must mirror theirs. Think about different situations in your life where you don’t belong or where you keep people outside of your circle because of conflicting beliefs and behaviors. It probably happens more than you think and I would guess that it often happens unconsciously, maybe even unintentionally.

     I recently saw a dialogue on Facebook where two people shared harsh words over their different beliefs. They were standing on opposite sides facing one other ready to battle based on their beliefs. It was evident that they didn’t see a middle ground in front of them. The exchange was cold and brutal without any compassion whatsoever. Their dialogue sparked a cascade of snarky comments from others where lines were drawn in the sand. The interactions were void of love, respect or compassion. 

     We live in a world that loves to take sides. People are quick to judge someone’s behavior or beliefs as either right or wrong. If your words or actions don’t align with theirs it is easy to be discarded and overlooked. Standing on opposite sides from one another will never foster peace in the world. 

     Imagine how the world would change if you and I were willing to

spend time in the “messy middle.”

It is in the middle that you get to know one another. Not just their views or beliefs but a place where you could see the whole person. In the “messy middle” you can see people for who they really are, their hurts, their wounds and how they suffer. You would see their fears, their brokenness and how they need healing. Your heart just might feel compassion as you look at the whole person instead of judging and criticizing them. In the middle, you gain a different perspective because it is up close and personal rather than standing on a cliff facing one another from a distance.  

     The middle is messy, uncertain and full of surprises. Jesus lived in the middle. He didn’t sacrifice the truth or let people off the hook for their actions. He met them in the  middle of their messy lives and showed them a different way. In the middle, like Jesus you’ll come to know the human side of people. It is a place where you can love and learn to show mercy. Your beliefs don’t have to change, but it will allow you to follow in the footsteps of Jesus to connect with others in an authentic and accepting way. 

      Jesus encountered many people in the middle.

In fact, the Gospel is full of how those encounters changed hearts and souls. Who knows if you're courageous enough to jump from the cliff of being right or wrong to the messy middle, you may meet someone in the middle who needs to encounter the love and mercy of Jesus through you. Or you just might meet someone who is able to see you for who you are…loved, worthy and a beautiful child of God. 

Jennie is a Catholic Life Coach, Podcaster, Weekly Radio Show Host on Nashville Catholic Radio, Speaker and founder of Catholic Moms in the Middle. She equips and encourages middle-life moms to reconnect with who they are and their unique God-given purpose so they can embrace midlife with joy and confidence.