If You Feel Caught In-Between, You're Not Alone
StrengthsFinder tells me Harmony is one of my top strengths, but lately it feels more like a curse. Perhaps you can relate to this struggle of the in-between.
The basics of Harmony means that I look for consensus and areas of agreement. Beyond mere people-pleasing, I want us to see and hear each other so that we can connect and grow together. And more than just getting along, I want to see us do the hard work of making good things happen. That's a decent trait to have in the division and chaos going on in our world, right?
Sure. I suppose. Except when it's just too much. And it's been just too much for a while. Do you feel that, too?
Let me put it a different way.
Imagine you're standing on the edge of a cliff looking down over a steep rocky edge with a river in the distance far below. Then there's someone standing on the edge of another cliff just on the other side of this river. You both want to be together, because you're friends. Or maybe you're family. Or coworkers. For whatever reason, you need to be together and you both know it, but you've got nothing but air and steep rocks and rushing river between you.
Enter the superpower of Harmony. With harmony, you have the ability to find or make a tall column out of a cloud floating between you, almost Mario-style. So, you step out onto this cloud-turned-column in between, because it's the only way you can be together.
Then that other person decides to stay on their edge of the cliff. Because they don't believe your cloud is structurally sound. Or maybe they're not ready to compromise their cliff. Or they're quite comfy there and just don't believe that you need to be together anymore. Or maybe they want to be together on their cliff edge.
Harmony encourages you to find a way to meet in the middle, it doesn't exactly send you sailing the whole way across. So, there you stand on this lonely column. The people on your side of the divide are still there, and the people on the other cliff are still there, and here you are in the middle. Looking for consensus and areas of agreement, and maybe even finding it.
But that doesn't matter, because no one will step with you. Or maybe just a few people from your side of the cliff will step, but that's not getting you anywhere because no one seems to be stepping from the other side.
That's what it feels like to have the curse, I mean strength, of Harmony today.
Today, when I stand on the edge of my cliff with my let-them-be-married and let-her-choose-what's-done-with-her-body and I'll-never-condone-a-hateful-president beliefs.
And even as I find a column between to stand on, the people on the other side feel so far away.
This isn't just about which side of the cliff we're on during this election. I recently realized this divide, and me feeling like I'm hanging in between, has been going on for years.
Since I told a friend I had slept with my boyfriend and her response made it clear she was on another cliff and not even able to listen to me unless I joined her cliff.
Since I thought the breastfeeding sit-ins were a little overboard, then nursed my son at a yogurt place fully covered and the employee there made it a point to be overly disgusted that I would do that in a public place.
Since I read and implemented a book that finally helped my son sleep at night and the comments in response to my blog post about it warned that this method could potentially kill babies, complete with links to prove their point.
Since I stood up for my gay friends saying there's more to the story than us who aren't gay could ever know and who are we to cast the stones when, in the story often used as ammunition, Jesus clearly told the woman to "go and sin no more" when the accusers were gone. But the accusers are on the other cliff and they're not budging.
Since I started having a real thriving relationship with Jesus that was changing me and causing frustrations with church that from the outside looks like frustrations with God.
Since hearing my friends' voices in #BlackLivesMatter and realizing there's still a real and recent pain that I've had a privilege to be oblivious to, and hearing my police officer brother's real experiences and dangers dealing with actual criminals.
Since I decided to claim our shame-free wedding story and leave the cliff altogether, but comments put me back on that ledge.
Since I raised my motherhood ebenezer with a tattoo and I panicked after wondering which circles would uninvite me because of this intentional choice.
Since my kids have started fighting with each other more recently and I'm their mediator in the middle with love for them both.
I have a decade of "since" stories that have left me feeling stranded alone in-between two cliff ledges, and it has finally become just too much.
You might be on your own lonely column with your own "since" stories. Maybe, like me, you've been cloud-turned-column sitting for years. Hanging in the balance between two extremes, trying to find common ground, and feeling so hopelessly alone in the process.
I'm reaching out to say that you are not alone.
You're not alone in this wide and expansive in-between. You're not the first or last or only one to struggle hovering over rocks and ledges and sides and raging rivers. Whichever cliff ledge you're stepping out from, you are seen, you are heard, you are appreciated, and your voice from the in-between is so desperately needed.
First, before sharing our voice, let's you and I take a break for a little self-care. Us and our voices and our clouds-turned-columns are not meant to save the world. That's already been done by Jesus on the cross, so let's just take a big old breath and let that truth sink in.
If, like me, you find yourself unable to take a full deep breath lately without struggle, try writing down your "since" stories. Recall and acknowledge that there's a reason you feel this way--conflicted or heavy or anxious or alone. It's hard to move on if you're not even sure what's holding you back. Pen and paper are great, and counselors are amazing.
Let's move and relax our bodies and de-stress in healthy ways that don't revolve around food or Netflix or any sort of binging. Let's refocus our minds on truth. Let's take care of us, because no one else is going to.
Let's laugh with the people we love. Hugging them, letting them know we appreciate them. Even if they're on a different cliff.
Let's share in the safety of our cliffs. Practicing the grace and peace of the in-between with people that see things how we do to help form words and practice restraint in safe areas. Then, let's share that grace and peace openly and freely.
Let's pray and read the Bible and seek God and ask for the column He's forming in the clouds. You know, the forever Kingdom one.
Because I want whatever columns I step out in only to promote Christ's love and His Kingdom come.
It's a journey, but I'll meet you there.
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when it's hard to breathe
my election prayer + next steps