When you find yourself in the middle

When you find yourself in the middle

When you find yourself in the middle

The last couple of weeks have ended up busier than expected, so I’m sharing some of my favorite posts from the archives. With the election heating up, this seems like an especially appropriate post this week!

On most divisive issues—politics, health, parenting, food, vaccines—I tend to fall somewhere in the middle.

For a long time, I’ve felt alone in this middle space. The people at the ends are loud (and let’s face it, often obnoxious). They talk about the issue more, yell louder, and often criticize those of us who refuse to “choose a side.”

Despite what the people on both ends of the spectrum seem to think, though, living in the middle doesn’t mean I’m wishy-washy or that I lack conviction. It doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in objective truth or that I’m unwilling to stand up for my beliefs.

But I think we try to apply Truth-with-a-capital-T to a lot of subjects that don’t deserve that label, based on our personal thoughts, beliefs, experiences and convictions.

Living in the middle means that:

  • I prefer to listen and hear what other people think, believe and know on a topic. (This despite the number of times I got in trouble for talking too much in elementary school.)
  • I value the right of others to have their own opinion.
  • I believe it’s worth considering what others have to say and not just dismissing them because their beliefs or opinions are different than mine.
  • I think experience plays a huge role in our opinions, and I want to know what experiences have led someone to their conclusions.

It seems to me that the ends of the spectrum tend to be where people dig in their heels and stop really considering the issues, afraid that if they move even an inch, they’ll lose the whole foundation of their argument.

But what I’ve realized over the past year or so—especially as I admit more often that the middle is where I fall—is that those of us in this space aren’t really the minority after all. In fact, I’m starting to think we’re actually the majority. Even though the people at the extremes (on any topic) are so much louder and would like us to think that there are only two choices, there’s a pretty big middle ground. And it turns out that a lot of us are comfortable there.

My conclusion is this: those of us in the middle need to speak out more often…not to add to the noise but to remind others that there are more than two options and that you can have strong beliefs and still respect the people who hold different opinions.

Do you find yourself in the middle? Have you ever felt alienated and afraid to speak up because you don’t identify with either “side” of a debate?

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. I am proud to be firmly planted in the middle. I am proud to never take a side just because it lines up with a political party, race, gender, religion or tax bracket. I don’t want to line up with anyone. I want to be a free thinker, consider each situation carefully and make a decision based on my own convictions and conclusions. I never want a talking head to tell me how I fell. So as the song says… Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

  2. This is so good. Even when I do have my own opinion of how I choose to live my life in regard to decisive issues, I find myself wanting to talk about issues from the middle place. I found myself in the middle of hypocrisy too many times to jump too far to one side or another much anymore. Sometimes you think you would NEVER or ALWAYS do a certain thing till your circumstances change and then you realize where the others were coming from.

  3. It’s so nice to meet other Middle dwellers but I don’t think that the majority is in the middle. When I’ve outed myself as a citizen of Middletown, I’ve alternatively been met with fierce derision and claims that I must have no sense of self or I’ve been dismissed outright. This is in
    classrooms, in seminars, in mixed company, etc. I’ve never been afraid to speak up but I do think that a lot of people find it easier to go along with whomever is loudest and whatever is trendiest.

  4. Very well said. Thank you.

  5. I think you nailed it with your edit, Elle – you wouldn’t believe the number of emails and messages I get from people who say they’re afraid to say how they really feel because they think it will alienate them from what they think is the majority. I think there are lots of us Middletowners out there who are still hiding!

  6. It’s very difficult to find yourself in the middle especially when your spouse is on the far side of an issue, and ESPECIALLY when the issue is about your kids! I often feel like my hands are tied. When I’ve ventured to share my own opinion, I get shut down and made to feel ashamed of it. How do I retain respect while still voicing a differing opinion, while at the same time showing respect and submission to his authority?

  7. I’m sorry, Sarah—I won’t pretend to know what that feels like. I will say that I don’t think respect and submission has anything to do with not being allowed to share your own opinion, and I think it would probably be a good idea to see a counselor (alone or together) to work through those issues. :hugs:

  8. I don’t think being in the middle means you don’t want to take a side but that you can see the issue from BOTH sides. I think most people do live in the middle. Just stick to your beliefs and let the loud voices talk to them selves.

  9. Thanks, Mandi. I have asked my husband to talk to our counselor about the fear issues from which I think this stems, and he’s willing to talk to him…just not right now–“one thing at a time,” as he puts it. I realize my comment makes him sound like some sort of tyrant, but I really couldn’t choose a better dad for our kids. He’s highly opinionated and highly principled, which is a wonderful thing, until it becomes affected by fear instead of being grounded in the assurance of God’s love and provision.

  10. You aren’t alone in the MIDDLE! I am right there with you. Love this article, it is so nice to know there are other people out there who have strong beliefs yet no desire to force them on others!

  11. In the middle over here too. I also like listening to others’ stories and finding out why they believe the things they do. If only we all sat and listened to others’ stories a bit more…

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