This morning, I learned about saggy middles and what to do about them.
As I do my three-mile trek around the mall, I can see my reflection in mirrors and shiny glass store fronts. I hate the saggy middle I see glaring back at me. This mid-life spread is no fun, and I’m determined to up my activity level in hopes of combatting it before I become that old geezer pumping vitamins and fighting the ailments of age that needed to be fought much earlier in life. Before the last few chapters.
When the middle is saggy, the end isn’t what it could be.
I’m constantly trying to pick other writers’ brains for tidbits of expertise I can use to improve my skills. Today my trek though the mall found me feeding my newest addiction. Podcasts on writing. Ooh! There’s so much good stuff out there and so much I don’t know. The topic of the day was on this saggy subject, but with regards to my writing and not necessarily my life.
I’m almost a third of the way through book two in my series, and it’s been rough writing. I don’t know if all the other things going on in my life were just too big a distraction, or if this is a common problem with sequels. It’s picking up, getting momentum, taking shape.
I’m telling Sofia’s story. She’s had a rough life—lost her dad when she was young and then her mother turned to drugs and men to cope with her grief. Raised in the ghetto, Sofia sees poverty as the worse possible outcome in life.
She uses her modeling to get out, sees wealth as her Savior, and when faced with an abusive situation, is unwilling to rock the boat. She has this “What can I do?” attitude—until something knocks her from her complacency and drives her to act.
To prevent that saggy middle, I have to make Sofia DO something to try and improve her life. She needs action with a purpose. Yes, it’s going to backfire on her, and things will get worse. But she has to try–or you, my reader, won’t respect her, much less like her the way she should be liked. She wouldn’t like herself very much either, and I will get totally bored and stop writing her story. She may as well be dead. Which is really sad, since she doesn’t exist outside my imagination anyway.
Sofia needs to get back up and try again, and again. She may not enjoy all those things that happen in the middle, but the end will be oh, so satisfying. I know this. I’m her creator, and I know when it comes to the end she will understand her story and be pleased with where it went. I want the best possible outcome.
So how are you handling whatever you are in the middle of? The writer of your story knows the hardships you face, and He also knows the best possible outcome. Bit by bit He’s directing events to push you and form you, to break you and remold you.
The Bible describes God as the Potter, and us as the clay.
If you are currently a lump of clay with a saggy middle, time to get moving. Time to do something and stop complaining about your situation. Time for action. Even small steps can make a big difference.
Does “action” mean starting out with a made bed and allowing that to trickle down and change how you approach your day? Does it mean biting your tongue and refusing to gossip at work? How about smiling when presented with a dreaded task and responding with—“I will rise to the challenge!”
Does it mean starting with one drawer and decluttering your home—one drawer at a time? Does it mean sitting with your spouse and going over a budget? How about walking around the block with all the kids in tow? How about finding a church home and attending on a regular basis? Maybe you need to stop spending hours on entertainment and learn a new skill that can help care for your family?
Action takes many forms but act we must, or the middle will sag to the point of rotting stagnation.
How do you want your story to end, and what are you willing to do about it? Most importantly, where do you think God wants your story to go and are you willing to go there?
It’s time, oh pieces of clay, to jump on the Potter’s wheel and let things spin. In the hands of the Master, we will be delighted with the outcome.