This year looks quite different from any others.
We are living in times we’ve never walked through before and so it’s hard to predict what will feel normal and what will feel completely the opposite of normal.
I feel like I should start off by simply saying: it’s okay if it doesn’t feel okay this year.
If you are sad or lonely or numb. If you wish the year looked different. If you are grieving what could have been or what should have been in 2020 and now 2021. All that you are feeling matters. You don’t need to try to flip on a switch and make everything cheerful and glowing right now. You are allowed to be exactly where you are on the map.
I would never have chosen the last few seasons for myself but I’ve learned so much through that time and I’m still carrying that with me; and I know there are some of you who are in the valley, or know someone who is there; may these words bring a glimmer of hope and carry you forward today.
Speak words of truth and be kind to yourself.
You might feel alone but you are not alone. You might feel like giving up but you will not give up. You might feel abandoned but you are completely surrounded and covered.
Grab onto this reality because it makes all the difference in being able to show up when you rehearse these truths to yourself.
When I believed I was moving forward, I actually did move forward. When I believed I would stay stuck in the pit, I plunged deeper into that pit. The things I told myself had a direct effect on the way I carried myself, whether I got out of bed or not, and how I communicated with others.
Different seasons yields different fruits.
Some seasons will be dark. Some seasons will be light. But we cannot swap out one season for another just because we like one better.
I live in a desert. I cannot snap my fingers and make it monsoon. I cannot uproot myself to go and find that. I must stay planted where I am and trust there is a reason for it.
In the same way, the dark seasons yield a different kind of fruit. They yield patience and resilience. They yield the stamina to keep moving. They yield steadfastness- a rare but gorgeous kind of fruit that will keep you full your whole life long once you learn how to cultivate it.
Before fruit can actually grow, there must be a process of burial. There must be a stretch of time where all feels dark and hopeless. It’s there – in the dark and horribly maddening wilderness that you figure out what you’re actually made of. It’s there, when you’re tempted to discount the mess of your own circumstances, that God uses that divine mess to bend and stretch you into something new.
You need people
Really, you do! I know we are pretty big on independence but it matters that we let one another in. That we send the text. That we make the call to say, “Hey, I am not really doing okay today. Could you pray?”
Just because gatherings don’t look how they used to does not mean we should indulge a free pass towards isolation. Fear wants to pull us in that direction but there is power in reaching out and power in telling people where you are on the map.
God is not asking for a performance right now.
I thought for so long that he was. That I needed to get it together and act like everything was okay. But God never asked that of me. I asked that of myself. Better yet, the inner critical troll that never shuts up inside of me is the one who had the expectation that I could always be strong, always be “on”, and always perform.
Take off that expectation. Ditch that impossible standard. Rest in the God who knows where you are and is not asking you to rule the day. He’s close. He doesn’t need your power, He has his own. Breathe and let your walls come down.
This very moment might be your becoming.
You might be so tired as you read this. Over it. Completely. You keep thinking to yourself, “I don’t have what it takes to go any farther.” But hope isn’t lost. Hope didn’t find the back exit. It may seem bleak right now. It may seem hard. But God knew you could be in this….you were made for such a time as this.
There is purpose in the pain. There is purpose in the questions and the answers and the “not yet” and the “not now”s. You might not be able to see it yet, but there will be a clearing in the path up ahead. We are praying that over your tired, weary bones right now.
If you feel like you can’t keep moving, look for one small thing you can do right now. So small but important. So small but necessary. That is how you come out of the dark: through the smallest steps, even when you cannot see the path laid before you.
Will you take that one step with us today? We know you have it in you.