Winter came early this year

Life is the strangest process. Do you ever think about that? I had a birthday a couple of week ago, and I was thinking a lot about the idea that at one point in time I was actually growing inside of another human. And now I’m bigger than that human. (You’re so cute and tiny, Mom. Love you.)

Pregnancy absolutely blows my mind. I have a few pregnant friends right now, and I am constantly in awe of the way God chose to send us through the process of creating new life … and I’m learning a lot right now about how every process in life, follows the process of life. (Go with me here as we unpack that tongue twister.)

It happens in nature all around us. Planting, growth, things blooming and bearing fruit, then shedding what isn’t necessary so it can die while the rest of creation rests in this season we call winter, just so it can bring forth new life when spring arrives.

I’ll be honest; I’ve never loved winter. (So church planting in Utah should be interesting, right?) I don’t really like being cold, and I prefer for creation to be alive around me, not dead. I’d rather be barefoot outside, and that’s not really an option in the winter unless you’re into hypothermia. I’m more of a tree-climbing, creek-wading, firefly-catching kind of girl.

Life feels a little weird right now, like everything is in some sort of limbo, and I’m not sure I’ve done the best job of embracing it. In the spirit, it kind of feels like winter came early this year, and if I’m honest I think I’m kind of mad about it. In many places in my heart I feel bare an exposed.

What God is teaching me is that I won’t bear more fruit unless I go through the bare and exposed season. I was trimming a rose bush in my yard last week, which I dread every time because I always end up with thorns in my hands, but I know unless it gets cut back once in a while, it won’t keep growing. I wonder if this is how God feels when he has to cut some things off of me… like maybe it’s kind of painful for him, too, but he knows it’s necessary. There’s something comforting about thinking that maybe we’re in this together.

I realized last week when I had a meltdown of epic proportions that I had been trying to live this season like it was springtime, but it’s winter. I wanted to make things grow and advance, but that wasn’t what God was saying for this season. I knew I needed to get some space and some quiet and hear God on what was going on with me, so I spent an evening alone at home with Him, just laying out all my feelings on the table — and in my journal.

I was frustrated. I was confused. I couldn’t put a finger on why I was having such a hard time. I sat at my dining room table, looking at a vase full of sunflowers that were beginning to droop, because they were lacking the one thing that they’re known for: a view of the sun, which they follow as it rises and sets each day. I could relate — feeling a little droopy, having lost my view of the sun — or the Son, rather.

I thought about how it’s kind of silly how we bring fresh flowers inside to bring some sort of beauty to our homes, knowing it won’t last long, because we’ve cut them away from their roots.

I looked up at the wall of my dining room, where my bridal portrait hangs, and I thought, “She looks so blissful.” She’s laughing, because that’s what you do when there’s more joy than you can hold, you let it out. She’s barefoot in the woods, dressed in white, whimsy and sun kissed. I told God I want to feel what she feels.

But here’s what I’m learning about joy: it’s a choice to find it where you are, and Jesus is joy, but if I’m trying to move past this season because it isn’t my favorite, I skip the joy, because the joy is in this season with Him. He hasn’t left.

And if I go back to the process of life, and think about a woman about to give birth, there’s this crazy thing that happens. Her body prepares itself. Her hips actually begin to shift and widen, and her cervix dilates, and what about all the little things that have happened to grow that baby up to this point?

She didn’t make any of that. She just lived. Her brain told her body to do the rest, and it all happened in the unseen, and she felt the pain and discomfort and just downright weirdness of it all, but it still isn’t time for her to actually do anything.

Isn’t that what it’s like in our lives when we’re waiting for something to happen? A dream was conceived months or years or decades ago, and it’s still just growing in the unseen. We feel the pain of it, but it isn’t time to do anything yet. It isn’t time for us to see it, or nurture it, or grow it.

But still, in the unseen, in our spirits, something is shifting. God is making way for something to spring forth, but it isn’t time yet. Our spiritual hips are still widening. (That seemed like a better analogy than “our spiritual cervix is still dilating.” ;))

So how do we do this season? How do we live in the seasons that feel a little bit lifeless? I finally stopped complaining and started listening a few days ago, and this is what I felt like He said:

“The winter may feel bare and fruitless, but this is when you get to rest. Just like the trees rest when they shed their leaves, before it’s time to grow new ones again. And just as a pregnant woman’s body begins to shift and make way to birth a child, your spirit is shifting to make way for what’s to come.

Don’t worry about not making it through the winter — you have gathered all you need.  You need only to be still. And I will be here, too, and you’ll know it because the cold of winter will reveal my breath.

Be with me in this season, daughter. I have much to show you. Come sit by the fire where it’s warm; I have secrets and mysteries to share, tales and adventures to tell you of. You’ll run barefoot, wild and free back out into the world again, but this time is for you to rest in Me.

You’ll need what you learn here when this season is over. Sit and soak in it with Me. It’s only painful when you try to leave without Me.”

It’s only painful when I try to leave without Him. This is a chief sin in my life. Prone to wander and make my own way. Eager to see the things He’s promised and slow to submit to the painful process of actually experiencing the conception, growing pains, and eventual birth of those promises — not to mention the stewarding and growing of them once they’re here.

So instead of running to find greener pastures and trying to make my own way, I will grow here. Because what I’ve always known about myself is that I am a wildflower, able to grow in the most unlikely of places. I will not run ahead of Him in my fear of missing something. I won’t lie down and let the enemy win. Defeat is not my portion.

He has prepared a table for me in the presence of my enemy called fear. I can see it, hear it, and feel it breathing down my neck, but it can’t touch me. So instead of running, I can stay in this place with Jesus and dig deeper. I don’t have to do anything except for be in His presence, and trust that He is making a way.

I will thrive in the places of desolation and lifelessness. Rooted so I can bloom, even in the desert. Anchored so I can fly, like a kite in the springtime.

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