Thursday, June 4, 2015

Grace for this season

This morning I woke up with something resonating in my heart and knew I had to share it with you all here. I don't know who needs to hear this, but I pray that this truth settles into your spirit and brings quiet surrender.
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Almost a decade ago, I was in a women's mentoring class at our (then) church. We were reading through one of those women's "encouragement" books, you know the ones that describe the Proverbs 31 woman and all the reasons why you should be doing all the stuff she did. That was at a time in my life when I thought if I did all the right things, if I looked like I had it all together, I could please God, so of course, I ate that book up. (My name is April and I am a "recovering elder brother.")


Each night we would break into small discussion groups. There was a new girl in my group and she was a newly saved, young, married, graduate student. One night she poured out her heart. She really wanted to be all the things this book said she needed to be. But she was so overwhelmed. She left home everyday before sunrise to get to her lab at school and didn't get back home until nearly midnight. She signed up for this class because she had only been a Christian for a few months and felt like she needed to learn what God expected of her. (And here we were, dumping a big list of rules in her lap.)

I could feel her heart breaking as she described the exhaustion, the endless studying, the stress of the mounting emotional and financial debt, the fear that she could never measure up to what God expected of women. In that moment, I felt her pain. I wanted to grab her up in my arms, hug her and tell her everything would be okay. But I waited to see what the response would be from our group.

The other ladies in the group stuck to "the script"...you know about the script, right? It's the list of Christian catch phrases people toss around when they don't know what to say. Things that we spout off to make ourselves feel better and avoid the uncomfortable admission that we don't have all the answers. Classic elder brother material. And what was the catch phrase that night?

"It's just a season."

At the time, I shook my head and agreed. Yes, this was just a season. In several months, she would graduate, begin her career, move on to greener pastures. It wouldn't always be like this, after all. She just needed to buckle down and try harder.


Looking back, I cringe when I think of that exchange. How positively dismissive it sounded, how she had been brave and vulnerable to share this very tender place in her heart and sought our support and we sat there with smug looks and our bumper sticker Christianity. Those Christian catch phrases might look good on the back of your mini van, but they do nothing to soothe a wounded soul.

Flash forward several years and I found myself the mother of a 2-year old and an infant. My life was crazy. I was having "episodes" that couldn't be explained by the doctor (now I know that they were panic attacks.) I couldn't sleep. My hair was falling out. I was sick all the time. And that phrase came back to me:

"It's just a season."

But this time, something was different. I was no longer attending that church where I was expected to have it all together. My facade of a well-put-together life was slowly cracking. I was really seeking after God's face, not just his hand. I was allowing Holy Spirit to work in my heart and reveal all those elder brother tendencies. So this time, when I heard HIS voice say, "This is a season" I didn't flinch, or roll my eyes. I didn't pass it off as fast food Christianity with no real spiritual value. I turned to his word.

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance. 
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away. 
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away. 
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

When I heard him whisper that truth to my heart, it wasn't dismissive. It wasn't belittling to my struggle, heart ache, pain. It was truth, rain drops poured out on a thirsty soul.  This season would not last forever. But that didn't negate the value of it. That didn't mean that he wasn't with me through every step of it, through every hard moment. 


  

I realized that even this really hard place, (the part I'd rather skip over!) was beautiful because he was in it. And not only was he in it, he would carry me through it. There was grace for that season. Not just grace to survive it, but grace that would empower me through it.

Whatever season you're in, dear friend, he's there. 

If you are in a hard place, every day a struggle to survive...he's there.
If you are in a dry place, thirsty for truth and hungry for love...he's there.
If you are in a dark place, where forces beyond your control threaten your security, your peace, your hope...he's there.
If you are in an agonizing place where the memories and nightmares haunt and you can't seem to escape the past...he's there.
If you are in an anxious place where the fears and what ifs are so overwhelming, he's there.
If you are in an impoverished place, hungry physically, emotionally, spiritually...he's there.
If you are in a lonely place, desperate for companionship, friendship, kinship, romance...he's there.
If you are desperate to be known...he's there.
If you are desperate to be hidden...he's there.

He is there, through it all. He is there in every season, in every heart ache, in every broken promise and dried up dream. He is there. 

You are not alone in your struggle. He is there.  

There is grace for this season.




Blessings,
April

2 comments:

  1. Oh my friend! Well written and timely!! In case your ears were burning last night, it's because you were a topic of conversation at my book club between Sarah H. and me...everyone else just wished they knew you!!! Love you

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    1. Aww, you are so sweet! Thank you, Paula! That means a lot to me. Unfortunately, Sarah H. knew me when I was SO stuck in that thought process of "I need to have all the answers." Ugh. So grateful for her grace to me through it. ;)

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