The seasons this year have been reflective of my mood. But time and time again, I have always held to the hope that spring always comes. Even if it comes later than we are hoping...it always comes. And because spring is sure to come every year, we can trust that it will come again. Always.
I have found in my life that the darkest winters tend to produce the most beautiful and vibrant of springs. It could be the anticipation of brighter days. Or it could be that all the tilling of the soil is making way for something beautiful to grow. But through the storms, we are made stronger...if we allow it. We may be weathered, but we are not broken.
Romans 5:3 says, "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
My pastor shared and talked about this verse at church yesterday. It is one that has always spoken to me.
Kenneth shared that he could understand how suffering produces perseverance and how perseverance produces character. But how can character produce hope? Now that really got me thinking. About myself and my own life. How has character produced hope in my life?
And of course, the answer points straight to the cross: Christ. When we draw near to Christ in our sufferings and allow our sufferings to strengthen us, we naturally grow closer to Him. And in clinging to Christ, we cling to Hope itself. Christ is Hope. And Christ has the ability to strengthen the character of a person and ignite a new kind of hope and passion. The strengthening in character strengthens the confidence in hope. A character built on Christ, and a hope centered in Christ.
A hope that spring always comes.
Christ always comes.
The past few weeks have been hard.
I had to let go of the one thing I had of my dad that I could keep with me.
And this is what I was left with:
The one thing that has remained unchanging all my life. From the beginning of my life until now. From the beginning of time to the end of time.
Time has only strengthened my faith as it continues to prove itself to be a constant. It is always there...Christ is always there. Always faithful. Always steady. Always sure. Never changing. Always ready to bring life and healing and wholeness. The creator of winters and the creator of springs. Maybe Christ even allows the storms and winters into our lives so that He can use those seasons to draw us closer to Him as we wait for spring.
Spring always comes. And for some of us, it is already here.
And the storms of this life will pass, and all will be well. Our troubles here are momentary. Which make the moments of joy momentary too. That is why we should live each and every moment to its fullest...through good times and bad. In sickness, and in health.
When I was growing up, I always had this idea for myself. That I would go to college. Date a little bit. Find my soulmate at a fairly young age. Be married by 25. And then start having a family before 30.
And then life happens. Trauma happens. And things don't always go the way you plan. At first you're upset and discouraged. But eventually, in time, you learn that it's okay. You accept what is, trusting the hope that God truly is working things out for your good.
Going through trauma, but then coming out stronger and using it to grow you, I believe, also gives you a stronger capacity for love.
I have known love in my life. Through family and friends, yes. But also through relationships. Each relationship I felt like I was able to give more than the last. The years shaping me and my heart... changing my perspective and appreciation for the good things.
I'm 26 now, which is still relatively young. I remember turning 25 and feeling like I had grown significantly. I got through another heartache. I learned to let go of my timeline. I felt stronger than ever. I somehow knew I was on the edge of a turning point in my life. I just couldn't pinpoint what.
Then I went through my 26th year. Some days I felt like I was crawling. But I also felt in my heart that surrendering daily the things I couldn't control were helping me grow to a new level of confidence, self love, and living in the present.
My 26th and 27th years are the ones that have sharpened me the most in this life so far. I was put through the ringer last year watching my dad succumb to cancer. Month by month. Day by day. I have been pushed to my limits emotionally and spiritually, but have come out stronger for it.
I remember questioning a lot in my life though. Especially about why things didn't work out with the men I dated in the past. I wondered what was wrong with me. I questioned my worth. We all struggle with thoughts like that when relationships don't work out.
Then it began to all make sense to me. I couldn't let real love into my heart without first making peace with my dad. And as I was making that peace with him and within my heart his last few days on earth in early November...loving and letting go...Jared stood by me.
And for the first time in my life I was free to love. Really love. In the deepest, purest, yet simplest of ways. I was stronger than I had ever been with an even greater capacity for love. Without the weight of tension I felt with my dad. I don't even mean tension within mine and my dad's relationship (though most of my life that was the case), but the tension of knowing that he was always in pain. The pain I carried knowing he was in pain. Always suffering. All the time. And that there was nothing I could do about it. But in his death, his pain finally left him. Every ounce of it. Forever. His soul was set free from the burdens of this life, which in turn, freed my soul from constant worry for him.
I believe with my whole heart that God saved Jared for this very specific time in my life. A time when I could give the most of myself, freely and genuinely. No burdens or barriers.
What I thought was me being let down in the past by failed relationships was really God's way of making His perfect plan known, without me knowing what that plan would even entail. God, in all His Grace and Mercy, saved a good man for the very time in my life (that only He could know) when my heart would finally be healed, after 26 years of heartache and loss.
For the first time in my life, I can move forward in love, with peace. Knowing how important it is to be present. Appreciating all the blessings along the way.
Thankful to serve a God who replenishes what was lost a thousand times over.