I love new beginnings. In fact, I love them so much, I tend to build them into my life regularly. Something about the chance to start fresh is inspiring. Like a blank canvas waiting to be infused with color.

This year, in 2020, I want to get just a little bit better at seeing the beauty in middles and ends though. It has always felt more exciting to set a goal than to maintain it or even complete it. This is understandable, everything about our neurobiology seems to support this love affair with the “new.” And yet, I’m setting out to nurture what others have referred to as the “joy of the journey.” 😆

Middles. I think the most beautiful part of middles is their complexity. At the beginning of my journey to eat more healthfully, the goal appears simple and straightforward. However, almost immediately the complexity of my endeavor reveals itself. The first time I tell my desire for sugar that it cannot be satisfied, it gapes at me in confusion. Like a toddler unused to being told no, it erupts in a tantrum of fury, poorly reasoned arguments, and blatant insults. I observe. Once the tantrum has quelled to more of a subtle pout I engage. I make an educated guess to inform my questioning. “Why does not having a Reeses make you feel panic?” I’m aware of course that sugar is it’s own sort of drug and that on one hand I am witnessing a normal physiological response to withdrawal. On the other hand, however, I suspect an emotional component as well. Complexity. I notice. Beyond the physical craving for that neurochemical surge, I see an emptiness. The sugar is a distraction from a deeper sadness.

At the beginning I was armed with merely plans, schedules, and self control. The middle reveals that a complex reality requires a thoughtfully complex response. I trace the lines of empty and sad in the middle. I listen to them with kindness and understanding. I attend to them. In the middle we learn that our goals are most efficiently met when we approach ourselves with an abundance of kindness.

Endings. Though typically associated with winter and dormancy, endings are more like ripened fruit at the end of summer, perfect for plucking. They mark fullness, completeness. It is ironic how much it frightens us to meet our goals. I think it is the haunting “What now?” that gets to us. For all our evolution, we have yet to master the art of contentment. I think this is what endings are meant to represent. As someone obsessed with perpetual growth, I ask myself, “Does there always need to be a new goal? Can it really always be better?” Or can we learn to embrace with open arms this powerful statement, “It is finished” (John 19:30b)?

May your beginnings, middles, and endings be beautiful in 2020!