We’ve grown used to some negativity attached to the term “middle.” Even equating it with mediocrity or blandness. “Middle of the road.” The economic distaste of being a “middle man.” “Middle of nowhere.”
I am not a middle child, but I have known quite a few. Some of them carry the distinction of having been ignored or have struggled to find an identity sandwiched between siblings. Not only have they felt overlooked, they sometimes have felt unnecessary. Yet being in-between is not always a bad place. The middle could mean more balanced or centered. Various health cultures emphasize the body’s middle or core as the place of energy and power.
In one of my study classes at church, I discovered a fascinating fact about the middle. By tradition, Jewish rabbis and teachers often reserved the mid-point of stories or lessons as the place of importance. So contrary to Western culture, the end of a story is not so special. That really changes meanings! I’m going to go back and re-read Bible parables with this new understanding. Think about where Jesus’ appearance is placed in the Christian Bible. How about the impact of patriarchs’ lives and decisions in the Old Testament? What if the end of the Book of Revelation isn’t the intended focus of the New Testament? What if arriving in Heaven isn’t what being a Christian is all about?
So I’m past my point of mid-life, but for those who are now “middle-aged,” perhaps this is the highlight of your life. Or if you are the middle child, you may be the prime member of the family, after all.
Let’s appreciate the middle.
Questions for personal discussion or group discussion:
1. What parables from the Bible would you like to re-examine for emphasis in the middle? What jumps out now?
2. If you are halfway through something right now, how might your perspective change concerning “finishing?”
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Karen Spruill writes from Orlando, Florida.© 2002 - 2021, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.