These last few months, I have enjoyed a season of confidence and competence in managing my home, my social life, ministry, and mothering. It wasn’t perfect, but I had some weeks where I got all the laundry and the dishes done each day. And I didn’t have to compromise my connection with God, my husband, or my kids to do so.
Like the winter chill that clings to my breath, the signs of a new soul-season have appeared.
I feel frail. Brittle. Exhausted. Lonely. Overwhelmed.
Activities and expectations which used to be simple accomplishments, now escape my efforts for productivity. With shorter naps and higher needs for attention in play, delighting in my twins requires my conscious neglect of housework and personal time. Certain ministry prerogatives which once were invigorating, have become exhausting. These days, I seek refuge under my covers instead of the clicking of my keyboard to share heart-felt words of grace.
God’s grace remains strong, but my heart feels empty. The only words I have to offer most days are from “The Icky Sticky Frog” which I have read so many times I have it memorized.
There’s a cracking in my spirit. Like branches under pressure, the expectations I give myself now groan and strain. Lysa Terkeurst illustrates this in her book, The Best Yes. She recommends a divine “letting go” or release, in preparation for each new season:
“It’s is a gift—a gift to a woman weighed down, grasping her leaves in the midst of a snowstorm, desperate, so desperate for help… She must listen or she will break. Her tree needs to be stripped and prepared for winter. But she can’t embrace winter until she lets go of fall. Like a tree, a woman can’t carry the weight of two seasons simultaneously…Release brings with it the gift of peace.”
Lysa Terkeurst, The Best Yes
Reading her words remind me of an important truth:
We need time to rest, restore, renew our strength.
Winter’s barrenness can be beautiful. Powerful, even.
I must learn to exhale.
Let the good and beautiful leaves of last season fall.
Learn to delight in bare branches.
To find refuge in a blanket, like the cold ground finds covering from thousands of unique flakes glittering white.
To understand my true blanket of comfort is the faithfulness of Christ:
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 93:4
Please understand, I am not allowing my feelings and emotions to supersede truth. My sense of lowness is not the author of my story or the bully of my joy. I have joy! But yesterday, today, and maybe even tomorrow, it is a quiet joy, fueled by God’s faithfulness. His steadfastness is immensely satisfying, regardless of my internal climate. After all, His word promises:
Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8
As I enter into this new season, both climatically and existentially, I cling to these truths.
His constancy is reliable.
My identity will never be a barren tree, though my emotions might resemble one every once in a while. God will always be producing good fruit through me when I cling to Him.
I will not always feel like a tree in springtime. However, I will experience the sense of blossoming again if I take full-care to embrace this winter-rest well.
For me, this means
- lowering my to-do list expectations.
- Receiving help from my husband when he so graciously offers it.
- Living free of the mommy-guilt, wife-guilt, friend-guilt, Bible-study homework guilt, etc. (Romans 8:1)
- Tightening my grip on Jesus as I loosen my grip on certain ministry goals.
- No more internal words of punishment or self-degradation for my body.
- Celebrating the victory and finding satisfaction in deep intimacy with God, Shane, Titus and Evi, rather than in my own sense of accomplishment.
Each season is simply, and beautifully, that: a season. We would be so wise to encounter each with such perspective.