It’s Spring. And I’ve been caught in my own deep winter for far too long.
The leaves have long since fallen, nature unclenching her fist. And I am brought back to the resounding discomfort that often comes with letting go. The pain of watching something fall from a tightened grasp.
And for me, Winter stayed.
I knelt on the ground, picking up the crumbled and crisped leaf, its vibrant beauty lost from months of cold and snow and rain. And that’s when I realized it – I have been caught up in my own cold winter. Clenched fists, fighting, struggling to stay on that limb and not fall to the cold, barren ground beneath. Hanging on to the bud so tightly, I lost sight of what comes next…
An incredible time of growth and renewal. A time when all that once was, turns into everything it can be. A time that could never exist if the trees were not willing to release everything in their due time.
Nature does not resist letting go because it’s afraid of the loss. Nature embraces letting go because it creates space for something new. Something beautiful. Nature does not endure in the name of grief – it endures in the name of possibility.
Sometimes we have to let go of the beauty we once created – a person, a place, a deeply rooted dream. We have to breathe like blowing wind, carrying remnants of seasons past, leaving the ache of absence behind.
We must believe in nature’s greatest act of surrender – trusting that after every cold winter, Spring always comes.
…And I haven’t done a great job of believing.
Trust me when I say, you don’t want to see me right now.
My eyes are tired and swollen from crying. My hair is an unruly mess. My skin is dry and cracked. I’m dehydrated and depleted from surviving on caffeine. My barista has seen more of me than my friends and my at-home coffee Ninja has been on overdrive.
Lately, I don’t even recognize myself.
All I can ever think of is my bed. Sleep. And yet it never comes. My mind racing – it’s like a penned horse, bucking and jerking for the longing of unbridled freedom and the serenity it brings. I’m stuck in the confining corral of my own mind.
I think of all I need to be, want to be, to everyone and for everyone. For myself…whoever that is these days.
I’ve spent months walking through my own personal desert as crisp and cracked as that fallen leaf, and feeling as though at any moment, I would crumble to dust, pieces of me scattered and lost forever. I’d never be whole again.
I never expected to find myself here and I’ve had a hard time finding my way out. I’m still not sure I have the right map…
The landscape was treacherous and the elements fierce. Sleepless nights, discouraging days. I was afraid, isolated, lost. I was angry. I was hurt. I’ve tripped and fallen so many times, the bruises evident for months. I’ve even broken pieces of myself along the way.
But I have not given up. Or rather, He didn’t give up…and I merely pressed forth with His strength.
Sometimes it’s hard to know who you are in the midst of what everyone else believes you to be, or NEEDS you to be.
But that’s one thing the desert is really good at – it lets the sand blow against your rough exterior until finally, you uncover what lies beneath. It forces you to sit with the really hard questions so that you can sit with the really honest answers.
Answers and honesty your heart has known and tried to bury beneath the facades of “I’m okay” “I can handle this”…I’m handling this…right…?
Because sometimes – we can’t. Sometimes our handle on life and what it’s dealt us is the very thing that breaks us…we can break by our own hands. We resist the help we desperately need. We spread ourselves too thin, too often.
We want to do it all and be it all. Not for martyrdom or accolades, but because it’s who we are – we are conquerors, we are survivors, we are lovers and healers and we want it all to be okay. And sometimes, if we are honest with ourselves, it’s not that we no longer want the dream we’d once envisioned, it’s that we don’t know how to let it go and accept the new one.
We cling to the beauty of that leaf, and when it withers away, we are so consumed by the Winter – the loss – that we fail to see the transformation taking place before us. We want to get to the other side without feeling the harshness of Winter or the hot desert as it burns and wears us away.
We push it aside. We cover our ears. We hum a tune so loud we hope it drowns all the noise; sometimes, it drowns us before we can drown it. We punish ourselves repeatedly for what we cannot control.
And then, God reminds us of his faithfulness. He restores us.
We seldom become the people that we are all on our own. We become those people through love and encouragement along the way. We become those people because of those that open their arms and hearts to us when we are finding our way in the darkness. They may not have the map, but they have the compass. They don’t let us forget that Spring will come and with it, the promise – the gift – of renewed hope and faith.