Sunday, February 26, 2012

Leaving Winter

Our precious Kate with her biggest brother who adores her

***I wrote this in January, and time has a way of passing as do the days and weeks with it.  Sometimes emotions linger, as these have.  Sometimes things are a gradual passing, as winter is.***

I was driving in the sunshine a week or so ago, thinking about this little blog, hoping to create a legacy of God's goodness in writing for Kate, and pondering the heaviness in my soul.   I wasn't really understanding it at all.  It made no sense.  Compared with our circumstances of the last six months I should have been filled with glee or at least some sense of gladness that those days have passed.  I was driving Ben to his last orthopedic appointment for his arm.  All is well.  Another x-ray in 6 months to make sure the healing has progressed despite some angulation of his radius.  Sarah had just had her last appointment for her spiral tibia fracture the day before that.  She will be swollen and limp for quite some time as the bone and muscles must strengthen, but she is healed.  All is well.

But yet it isn't.  My soul is heavy.  Burdened.  Too many layers of clothes on a warm spring day.  Overdressed.  Heavy. 

I have felt at the end of a long, winding, adrenaline-rushing roller coaster.  Roller coasters produce excitement, heart-pumping, wind-in-your-face giddiness and fear.  Once it gets going you hang on and hold on until the ride comes to a stop.  There's no getting off after it starts.  These last 180 days or so have left me at the end of one of life's roller coasters.  God-ordained, God-planned, God-allowed.  The ups and downs experienced in those days seem to have settled for now.   And yet the peace that passes understanding of those days seems to have given way to burden in my soul.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not walking around in a general funk.  I will smile at you and engage in your life and be sincerely happy for all that is going on around me that is good and happy and wonderful.  It's that deep inner space in me that seems a little cloudy.

The car is warm,  the sun is shining glorious, life is good, bones are healed, daughter is thriving, and yet it feels like winter in my soul.  Grey.  Barren.  Cold.  Desolate. 

Then, as always, I heard him.  Leave winter.  He takes us through the winter to give us rest; to dig our roots down deep in Him despite the darkness, grey, wet, heaviness.  He brings the seasons for growth, variety, color, harvest, bloom, rest.  When the winter days are dark, cold, wet, and barren, he doesn't leave us.  Spring is just around the corner, even on the darkest day.  Looking outside on a winter day makes one forget the beauty of spring.  It was so many seasons ago.  Creation is always preparing for the next season.  Winter's dreariness makes way for spring's splendor.  The smallest signs of life appear.  Bulbs get ready to burst forth in colors many and varied.  Trees rest and prepare for their crowns of leaves.  Grasses prepare to come alive in all shades of green. All looks dead, but life is getting ready to reveal itself in glory. 

I am getting ready to leave winter.  I won't stay in this heaviness.  I will lift up my eyes to the hills because my help comes from him.  I know God is with me and teaching me through yet another lesson.  I will shed this heavy coat and put my face to the sun because it is His gift.  All of it.  The winter.  The dark days.  They are only the prelude to the light. 

***Present day:  John Piper posted a quote on Facebook a few weeks ago that spoke clearly to me about the winter season in my soul.  "Dear happy young people, prepare for deep loss and long sadness by feeding a kind of joy that thrives in winter."  Ah, so the joys of life that are like the bloom of spring, the sun of summer and the golden of autumn must be the preparation and cultivation of a deep joy that must be able to thrive in life's winter. 

 I sat today in my room and started to look through the box of cards that we have received since sweet Kate arrived in our family.  The tears were controlled, but the emotions were heavy as I relived each moment and word and timing of each note of congratulations, sympathy, encouragement, compassion and love.  The roller coaster!  I could feel it and how I just held on to my Savior through that time because there was nothing else but hanging on to the one who has always held me and who fashioned Kate and holds onto her with such mercy and kindness.  There are daily so many lessons of who He is, and I feel I have been granted a sacred privilege to be a part of Kate's great story through these months.  God allowed a beautiful daughter to be born in the heart of summer, with sun hot and my other babies golden.  He almost immediately led us into the fall of a new life we didn't dream of and we stumbled, picked ourselves up and made our way through.  And now winter is passing.  Spring is coming, and I will be ready for new growth, new lessons, new trials.  Lord, make me ready.

The most beautiful gifts I've ever received