We moved on the cusp of Autumn. A Texas-native, I’d never seen such a beautiful fall. I felt like a child, giddy over the brilliant changing colors. Six months in, I’m giddy over another season I’ve never fully experienced – winter. My Lone-Star education taught me snow days meant thin layers of slippery ice, school delays, and one day off of school at best. Our first Maryland winter brought the most historic snowfall on record in the city of Baltimore. We spent over a week snowed in under almost three feet of snow.
I loved the experience. The steady storm of silent flakes amid the tall bare trees was breathtaking and the the blanket of snow (or several blankets and comforters) it left behind was beautiful. From indoors, warm, cozy, and under a heated blanket, I loved watching the kids play and sled in the mountains of snow.
After a week though, it got old. It’s hard to navigate cars around giant dirty piles of melting snow. You run out of groceries. You run out of patience with cooped up kids who’ve been out of school too long. Even sending those cute kids out to play in the snow means washing and drying countless extra loads of wet snow clothes. The wonder and excitement all run their course.
A blizzard-like move
I feel like that’s kind of the season I’m in of this cross-country move. While there are plenty of wonderful things to enjoy about moving and newness, the excitement runs its course and gives way to harder realities of figuring out life here. Just like everyone warned us winter would come (and it did), the friends we turned to for seasoned wisdom warned us the hard and lonely days would come too. And for me, they have. As we wait for our ministry to take form and launch, I find myself snowed in behind a wall of loss and loneliness.
I experienced great loss in moving away from a solid community of believers who knew me and loved me. I miss fellowship with the young believers I left behind. My children miss their life-long playmates. I miss the familiar culture and way of life that I’d never branded as “Southern.” Here, almost everything feels different – the grocery stores, the roads, the small-talk, the down-time, the mom-life – the unfamiliarity is disorienting and often lonely.
Even the good changes are hard. A month after moving here my husband and I learned we’d been given the gift of a new life. We’d moved to Baltimore to birth a church and now I’d be birthing a real baby too. And this baby, makes a family of SEVEN. Heavens. All of my own insecurities and weakness really hit the fan. “Me? Lord, I’m not equipped!” I felt like crying in response. With another baby comes another level of change and challenge and the gift of recognizing once more my need for Jesus.
So here I am – new, lonely, pregnant, and facing all the same weakness and spiritual challenges that I had in Houston, here in Baltimore. I understand from the other side of the fence why just like my friends gasped over the thought of snowy winters, they gasped over the hurdle of a cross-country move. When the glamor of costly obedience wears off, what’s left isn’t as picturesque.
Why acknowledge the blizzard?
There is an immaturity in my heart that wants to hide my grief for fear of marring my witness. Elisabeth Elliot wrote “Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.” I would rather write nothing than cast the shades of sadness I feel in darkness on a decision my husband and I made in the light. But as much as I’d hate to paint a faithless picture, I’d also hate to paint costly obedience as only cheerful and rosy.
So how does one write of trials and loss without whining? How does one share from a place of grief and brokenness while fully expressing the spectrum of gratitude and joy that co-exist in trial? How could I paint the highlights of the harvest without the contours of the grim shadows of grief? I’ll admit, I don’t know the answer.
I think I have to begin with honesty. I have to be brave in confession – both to the Lord and to those around me. I have to let go of the fear of what people may think of me or how my struggle will reflect on my spiritual maturity. I have to care less about whether or not I’m “handling” things well. I have to allow God to work not only in in celebration and joy, but also in pain and heartache. I have to abide in Christ as I’m a “work in progress” instead of waiting on my life to be tied up in a pretty and presentable, bloggable package.
As I write from the blizzard of life, surrounded by snow, hemmed in by melting mounds of mysterious ice, these words from missionary Amy Carmichael bring me hope and encouragement:
“Nothing will seem too much to have done or suffered, when, in the end, we see Him and the marks of His wounds; nothing will ever seem enough. Even the weariness of deferred hope will be forgotten, in the joy that is not of earth.”
Friends, when we can’t dig ourselves out of icy blizzards, we can warm our hearts with this truth – we serve a worthy King who knows us and loves us and calls us His own. Whether in winter or spring, sorrow or celebration, let us strive to make His name known and bring Him glory. Weeping only lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning. One day soon He will return and welcome us into an eternal spring filled with joy that is not of this earth. Until then, will you persevere in hope with me?