In medias res is a Latin phrase that means in the middle of things or into the midst of things. As a literary term, it refers to a narrative that starts in the middle of the story—often at some critical moment—rather than at its beginning. Earlier parts of the narrative are then interjected through recollection as the story moves forward. For a single moment in a story to make sense, one has to know the rest of the narrative. In other words, to derive a proper understanding of part of a story, that part needs to be viewed in relation to the whole. Moreover, to gain even greater clarity and understanding, one needs to view the story in the light of other stories and within its historical and cultural context. That’s also the way it is with our personal life stories. Our narratives make greater sense when viewed together with other stories, as well as within a biblical and historical and cultural context.
Every story is rooted in the past. Everyone is born into the middle of a family narrative with ordinary joys and mundane doings, as well as disappointments and triumphs and failings. The family story is already in progress and is situated in a particular community, culture, and historical period at the moment when the new member arrives. Russell Baker astutely concluded in his classic memoir, Growing Up, that “We all come from the past, and children ought to know what it was that went into their making, to know that life is a braided cord of humanity stretching up from time long gone, and that it cannot be defined by the span of a single journey from diaper to shroud.” Whether one likes it or not, everyone’s story is rooted in the distant past and every present encounter touches that past.
Present life is lived in the middle of things—in between the past and the future. The present is always unfolding into the future and taking the past along. There’s no going back. There’s the woman who says, “Oh, if only I could do life over because I don’t like what I’ve done with my life,” the mother who says, “I wish my child had a pause button to push so I could figure out how to do this mom thing,” and the wife who says, “I should never have married my husband in the first place.” How does one live well in the middle of what life used to be and the uncertainty of what life will be in the future?
How does one live well in the middle of things? How does one live well in the midst of a world where sin has touched every part of God’s original creation, distorting its goodness, truth, and beauty? How does one live well in between Easter morning and Christ’s triumphant return, in the middle of what Christ has done for us and what Christ is doing in us, and in the midst of ugliness and pain and shame and saving redemption—the forgiveness of our sins? How does one live in the middle of this tension—the already and not yet—and live well? These are hard questions.
Living in the middle of things is very difficult, let alone living well in the midst of things. I find “In Medias Res—In the Middle of Things” to be a fitting, descriptive phrase for life. I hope to offer stories and articles that will touch on hard questions pertaining to faith and life and, in so doing, to encourage Christian women to live well even in the midst of life’s storms. Those are the moments that threaten to overtake us, because they are when it seems most difficult to trust that God “who began a good work in [each of us] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ,” to remain hopeful that “in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us,” and to rest assured that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, neither things present nor things to come…” (Philippians 1:6, Romans 8:37-39 ESV).
There are no retakes in life. What Christians have is infinitely greater—a new future in Christ.
Welcome to In Medias Res,