Are you stuck in a rut? Paralyzed by that thing called fear? Looking for certainty before you make a move? Ah, I’ve been there and — honestly — on some days I’m still there!
Life can come at us hard, my friends. Seasons change, yet all too often, we find ourselves stranded in winter without a plow to rescue us into spring. In other words, we can become snowed in by those seasons where we have experienced pain, heartache, loss, and disappointment. We can become trapped in the cold identities that are linked to the struggle. It’s difficult to break through the ice and get back to a warmer place of joy and belonging.
Truth is, sometimes it feels like the party is just beyond our reach. Fun, playfulness, promise — well, those things are for other folks, right? After all, we’ve been through tough times and those moments leave a mark, a scar, a bruise. Staying in a season of winter seems like the safest place to be. We’d like to move forward, but it’s just too darn risky.
As you read these words and as we share this time together, I’d like to offer you this thought: you don’t have to be stuck in a season of pain. Whether the hurt was self-imposed or forced upon you, you are not permanently frozen in the moment. You are not forever branded within that season.
I have a close friend who, several years ago, survived an unfathomable violation. The pain and the humiliation seemed impossible to move beyond. It clouded every bit of her ability to trust and to heal. She became stuck in a season of fear. Stuck in a season of self-blame: What if she had locked her window on that summer’s night? Maybe, he would not have gotten in. She’d be a healthy and whole woman, today, if she’d only been wiser on that night.
My beautiful friend beat herself up, daily. Day after day, she whipped herself emotionally over that one decision of keeping a window unlocked. She was lost in the moment and it was sabotaging her life. One day, in conversation, I was overcome with an urge to speak up in a way that I’d never done before with her. “I know that you’re hurting and that this pain has followed you for quite some time, but you are not defined by that perpetrator’s actions, or by the choice you made not to lock a window. You are stuck in a season that no longer should have power over you. And, you are stronger than this! You need to give yourself the okay to move forward. Let God in so that He can go to work on your behalf.” I’m not sure where these words came from but they flew from my mouth as if they had wings!
What I wanted my friend to understand is that God could meet her in those places where she felt shattered within. He could move her from winter to spring. He can do that for you, too.
No matter the dark experience, the hurt, the loss, the humiliation, the invasion … God can heal the sorrow. I gain great strength when reading about those who have risen up over what seemed like impossible odds. They are those who realize that they’re not the sum of a moment — a season — in time. They’ve come out on the other side with a knowledge that a season of pain can often be the very circumstance that readies us for a life of deeper meaning. The only way to grow forward is to give ourselves permission to take that first step way from pain and onward to promise.
You see, what you have survived can be the fuel that propels you to thrive. God created you for victory, for triumph, for a new day and a bright new season. Sure, I could have written this post as a listing of five or more steps to moving forward in life, but I believe there is but one step that truly matters: take God’s hand and let Him guide you out of winter. After that, He’ll reveal all of the next steps that are good and right for you. He knows you.
Step by step, with God, you’ll become the person that He created you to be. Step by step, with God, you’ll grow stronger in the broken places: stronger than you ever were before. I’ve seen this transformation take place in the life of my friend. She’s more powerful and more vibrant, today, than she’s ever been. She’s no longer the woman who left a window unlocked, she’s the woman who threw open the door to God. He’s walked with her through a season of miraculous healing.
As for me, God has guided me — often carried me — out of the brokenness. There are days when I still feel insecure and unsure. Of course I do, I’m human! There are moments when I question if my voice really matters. If my writing is helping anyone out there in the world…if I’m a good enough mom and wife. Should I toss up the towel of surrender and stay in a season of doubt? No…Stop it, girl!
Even though I can sometimes get stuck in a less than desirable head space — a challenging season — I have a “one-step” plan that moves me forward: I let God fill the holes created by insecurity and doubt. I let God move me from that place of winter. I let God be the plow. In Him is where renewal of strength is harvested, and it’s waiting for us all.