You know what makes us happy? Progress. Looking back where we were and seeing just how far we have come. Reaching that final destination of a goal, getting to say you made it,  you did it, you accomplished it…..well, that sure does feel good. No matter if that is passing a test, crushing some sales goal, being a better parent, loving your spouse on purpose, or learning something new. We like the feeling of rising to the challenge.

Oh there is joy and excitement, and anxiousness at the beginning, when plans are being made, when you think of all the possibilities that could/might happen. The wheels in your head going 100 miles per hour wondering, dreaming. The butterflies in your stomach as you begin to take a step or two toward a goal and you are so happy to be going for it. The beginning….well it is fun and maybe a little nerve-wrecking, but it’s anything but boring.

However there is an ugly part of progress…..the middle. The in between time of starting and finishing. It’s the plans of a daily workout routine and heathy meal preps that, you know, about 2 weeks in when the bed feels better than the gym equipment and M&M’s are better than broccoli. It’s a man’s plan to grow a beard and a couple weeks in you really can’t tell if he is indeed growing a beard or if he is just homeless. It’s wanting to further your education, but class after class and test after test you question if it is really going to be worth it.  It’s stepping out in faith on an instruction from God, then questioning if that is really what He said to begin with. It is starting strong, but wondering if you have what it takes to see this to the end. It’s seeing a little bit of progress and wondering if that is enough, can I just stop here?

The middle where the new has worn off and there is still a lot of work ahead to do. The middle where you diligence and discipline have to take hold to keep you on track. The middle where if you stopped now, people would understand that you tried, and that it was hard, and would completely understand if you stopped. The middle were the mundane of the routines and the challenges progress brings, tests your strengths, your character, and your determination. It’s the middle that no one really sees.

It’s attending a college graduation ceremony, but not seeing the times these students stayed up till 3 am, not partying, but studying, cramming for exams.

It’s going to a baby shower, but not seeing the years the couple tired to get pregnant and the countless tears shed after each disappointing month.

It’s seeing someone succeed financially, but not seeing the blood, sweat, and tears, the time away from their families and the sacrifices they have made and have poured into their business to make it what it is.

It’s seeing someone with a very close relationship with God, but not seeing the times they questioned Him, or was too afraid to believe in something bigger than themselves.

It’s hearing of testimony’s at church where they share the problem and how God provided the answer, but skip right over the middle where their faith was tested and they didn’t know when the answer was going to arrive, or if it would.

It’s the middle. Where your heart has to cling to the dream it wants to see happen. Where your mind has to stay focused on the goal ahead. Where your soul has to hold tight to every shred of faith is has.

BUT the middle is where we grow, where we see what we are made of, where we prove to ourselves we can do exactly what we set out to do. It’s where we grow closer to our God and find a strength in Him that we can use as our own. It’s where our discipline develops and character is created. It’s where we learn not everything we want comes easy, but that doesn’t have to keep it from coming.

As the good book says, let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9