in college, a brilliant professor made a an illustration of how those who live in california, in the perfect spots, where the temps are always wonderful, the sunshine is always shining, and the grass is always green... that's a hard life. though you have to be seriously wealthy to be there, probably with everything you've ever "wanted", that is a hard life. it's a complacent place to be. for, life is full of change!
experiencing the new life and regeneration of spring; the freshness of summer berries and dipping into bodies of water to cool the skin amidst the hot summer sun; the crisp, cider-drinking evenings of fall as dashes of warm colors prance around on a breeze; the first snowfall of winter and the JOY within the Christmas season.... though i only listed some of the best things, each season comes with hardship and new exercises that are a must for survival, whether chopping your own wood or turning on the heat... experiencing these changes only contribute to our development and growth as a human being. we are not allowed to be complacent. though sometimes we must make due, we make due with new scenery every 3-4 months.
i recently began reading Spiritual Rhythm by Mark Buchanan. it's a book about the seasons of the soul, directly derived from the real seasons that we experience right outside our windows. it's a book i was meant to read.
it's no secret i've been in a winter season of my soul for over 5 years now. that's a hard season to be in through college, marriage, baby #1, and baby #2.
Buchanan begins his book with winter, thankfully.
he describes winter as this:
Winter shames those in it. It feels like personal failure, something we've caused, or missed, or faltered in. We chide ourselves for being there. We're sure it's our fault. We wonder if we're crazy or lazy or stupid... [our assumption is] God can't be in winter. God has abandoned me, or I have wandered from him, but this bleakness - this fruitlessness - can't be blessed by him. If I loved God, if God loved me, I wouldn't be here.
...winter feels all consuming and never ending.
he's speaking my mother-father language, no doubt. winter was definitely thrusted on by truth revealed in my college bible classes... it was accelerated after i no longer felt at home in the church i grew up in because i could no longer worship in a place that didn't value the doctrines that rocked me to my core... it stomped all over me as i came into knowledge of the disgust in our fallen world, so rotten (to the core) that we shrug our shoulders when a death sentence is delivered to a baby before a birthdate... and it kicked me while i was down as i searched for what i do believe, and a church family i could share that with.
Buchanan discusses the activities winter requires:
...winter imposes work.
Prayer is the ongoing work of winter... So [we] push ourselves beyond circumstances. [We] resist the temptation to equate circumstances with God. [We] pray not because God's been good to [us] but because God's Word says God's good, and [we're] betting the whole farm on it being so... That's Biblical faith... Winter grows pure faith.
And then the unexpected gift of winter:
Maybe the greatest gift of winter, a gift that winter alone gives, is that it makes us heavenly minded. It breaks our addiction to this worldliness and nurtures in us an anticipation of things unseen... We are not made for this world.
i haven't been faithful in my winter. i have drowned within my sorrows. i've sent blame and judgement through the flames shooting out of my mouth. i've relied on myself and my own foolish pride to get me through. my outside became hard as a rock, while my insides were swollen from the sobs that almost suffocated me. yet, God is still faithful. He still meets me, though i wasn't aware; He still picks up my drunken body, carries me through, and brings me home again.
and right on cue with the budding tree outside my window, i can see and smell and taste spring!! i hope it's coming my way! sure, i'm disappointed with my stunted growth in my winter, but maybe there's more growth than i know - besides, i'm sure to see winter again. for now, Jesus please meet me!!! and bring some flowers along with you!
"I believe every heartache and hardship, and the profound loneliness such things bring, has a back door. They allow us entry into a communion with Christ we don't usually experience in our days of ease and song. Most of us have had our deepest encounters with Christ not on mountaintops but in valley floors." Mark Buchanan, Spiritual Rhythm