It has been my recent observation that there is so much Before and After imagery when looking at accomplishment and success. Whether a fitness journey, a home renovation, earning a degree, or launching a new business, there is often the tale of “this is where I started and here is where I am now.” But the power of most transformations is in the untold narrative of the process – the Middle. We live in a society that puts emphasis on beauty and greatly values success. I can honestly understand why people don’t want to talk about, and certainly not display pictures of, the middle; it’s not pretty. Unfortunately, the very limited view of how various successes are achieved leaves those aiming for similar success without a realistic picture of what it takes to reach their proverbial mountain tops.
When we look at and hear the testimonies of those who are considered successful, we often see strong, confident, articulate individuals, but what we don’t see are the trials, challenges, and failures that produced said strength and confidence. It’s almost as if the passing of time produces the deepest desires of our hearts and all we have to do it wait for it. Unfortunately, that is not the case. A marathon runner doesn’t just let time pass, but through sore muscles, blistered toes, and numerous days of “just not feeling it” that runner pushes through to prepare her body for the numerous grueling runs that stand between her and the run. And while the big race is lined with supporters for miles and concludes with cheers, photos, and a medal – those several-mile runs through some of the most extreme temperatures designed to increase endurance and reinforce form, strength and speed were, on the contrary, quiet, lonely, and void of the applause that makes it a little easier to dig deep and keep pushing through. This doesn’t even account for the alterations to diet, the adaptations to routine, and the impact that such a tremendous endeavor has on relationships with others and oneself. But all we really see is a race complete, a smile on a face, and a medal around a neck. Much like a marathon, addressing historical experiences to heal wounds that are impacting your perceptions and experiences requires patience, practice, and opportunities to increase endurance and build mental, emotional, and spiritual strength. This journey can feel lonely, isolating, and impacts relationships and routines; it’s not easy. But the reward of releasing long-carried burdens and the freedom that accompanies can feel much like crossing a finish line, smile on your face, medal in hand. The Before and After – the story of triumph, doesn’t come without the work in the Middle.
Whether you find yourself at the beginning of a transition or already going through the Middle, you don’t have to experience the journey alone. Allow Labors of Love to be the cheering section, encourager, and support you need as you make your way toward the After you desire.