The Middle (of anything) Matters

Sister M Alicia Eagles
Sister M. Alicia Eagles
January 6, 2016
Reflective thinking
Appreciating the Ordinary Things
January 22, 2016
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By Sister Karen Zielinski, OSF

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.                 1 Corinthians 15:58

I was in my doctor’s waiting room and picked up the December issue of Woman’s Day magazine.  I scanned it; there were lovely holiday decorating ideas, cooking instructions and recipes, and something that caught my attention:  a little box with some “facts”.  I was surprised by two things about the magazine.  First, it was a current magazine, not a three years old issue we joke about being in doctors’ waiting rooms.  Secondly, it told me about how we Americans carry out our New Year’s Resolutions, if we even make them.

The neat little box told me that:

100 million Americans make New Year’s Resolutions

80% don’t keep them

35% don’t even stick it out past January 31

I know I was part of those statistics in every category, but I thought, why can’t we try to stick to the New Year’s resolution even if we did not stick to it?  What is wrong with starting again in March or April?  When we go on a road trip, and we take a wrong exit or our directions steer us out of the way, eventually we correct our mistakes, and find our destination.  We get there, but we had to start again.  So what?  We made it to our destination.

January and February will soon pass and now we will be looking at the middle months of the year.  We wait for spring, and remember our New Year’s resolutions (if we made any) with guilt, probably because we did not keep them or we stopped after a few weeks.

By the end of January, we might have stopped our medications, vitamin regimes, our plans to make smoothies to lose weight or volunteering in our community.  The start of a new program, a course at a local college, etc., inspires us.  We are energized and challenged about what we can learn, do, or how we will be different in those next weeks or months.

Then reality sets in.  We miss our volunteer day because of inclement weather, or an illness in the family.  Sometimes our goals of eating sensibly and exercising three times a week are abruptly stopped.  We just are not disciplined enough to continue.  We start off with sincere determination to use our Wii exercise program, and then get home from work, throw in a load of laundry, and fold towels on top of our television set.  Life happens, and we just stop our resolutions completely.

But there is hope!  Why can’t we do a mini-start or beginning of some never realized plans in the middle of the year?  We are still starting again, and going back to what we planned and stopped. Starting over in the middle is better than not doing anything.

These “Stuff in the Middle” resolutions are still resolutions we can do.  People who are honored for 25 years teaching high school music, or being married for decades are honored and rightfully so!  They are honored, I think, for the stuff that happened in the middle of their commitments. It is sticking to the beginnings they chose and celebrating the endings for what they set out to do for a specific time.  Retiring after 30 years of doing something at a job means the person honored stuck to their job.  Celebrating an anniversary means a married couple followed through on their beginning (their marriage vows).  The beginnings and ends, or celebrations are great.  But it is the faithfulness to the in between time that is inspiring.  Carrying on even if you have some stumbles or mistakes is what is honored.

So, be encouraged, start again.  The “stuff in the middle” is challenging but a part of life.  Like the white stuff in Oreo cookies, or the middle pieces of a good loaf of bread, it is simply a part of the whole.  Enjoy the whole loaf, the whole New Year’s resolution, wherever you are in your resolution or commitment.

The big thing is not when you fail or stumble at your goals; it is that you keep trying to be faithful.  Even in the middle of the year…

Sister Karen Zielinski

Health and Spirituality 

Sister Karen ZielinskiKaren J. Zielinski, OSF, is a Sylvania Franciscan who has lived with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) since 1975.  She writes, speaks and consults regularly on issues relating to spirituality and health. Her recent book, Hope and Help for Living with Illness (Franciscan Media) discusses chronic disease and coping strategies and is addressed to both caregivers and patients.  Karen also writes a blog on spirituality and wellness–Soul Sister– for the National MS Society website.

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