Have you ever been in a season where you feel not much is happening in your life? It seems quiet? Barren? You are so used to producing, doing, living wildly and all of a sudden you feel as though you are halted to a stop and there is nothing….
Growing up and even until this day I have always thought the “winter” season was something you tried to avoid. “Winter”, meaning that nothing much is going on in your life: answers to prayers are a bit more quiet, growth seems to be slow, life is still, making progress has been stalled, the wilderness seems to be a present companion, etc. It’s quiet and you feel frustrated because nothing SEEMS to be happening. It has always had a negative feeling to me. You want to be in the “Spring” or even the other seasons! Having things to show for in your life is what we are all accustomed too. It somehow has become our identity. If you aren’t producing anything in your life and you have no amazing stories or events to share…are you actually living? Are you thriving? Are you, YOU?
What if “winter” was the most powerful season? What if it was the season that was required to flourish in all the other seasons? What if “winter” stripped you of the need to DO and just allows you to BE? What if “winter” was the season you could hear God the clearest? Winter….what if it became the season you craved instead of run from?
I ran into the wall awhile ago, not literally, but figuratively! I was in a very intense and busy season…unhealthy to a degree. After taking some time off, I knew deep down inside I craved rest and I actually purposed in my heart and my calendar to make that happen. But here’s the thing…I was meant to create, to produce, to do…wasn’t I? Who am I if I have nothing to bring to the table? I still needed things to happen in my life even if I was to pursue rest….? I can’t be fruitless in life. These were all the thoughts that were running through my mind as God was asking me to give up the notion and identity of “doing”. I was frustrated at the lack of certain things happening in my life. It was a depressing frustration, a frustration that was a burden and that made me have difficult, whiney, entitled conversations with God…when all of a sudden my phone rang and it was one of my close friends facetiming me. We don’t often facetime so the fact that she called me had me suspicious to what God was up to. We talked, caught up, and then she asked me what was new in my life. The question that I HATE, only because it challenges the things that aren’t happening in my life, as though putting the largest spotlight on the nonexistent desires and dreams that have yet to play out in the natural. I shared my frustration at the lack of some things happening in my life, but I also shared how I had made room in my calendar to rest. She replied with her casual way of communication, “Oh that’s easy to tell! You are in the “winter” season! A whole bunch of us are.” (it’s so comforting to know that you aren’t the only one experiencing this and also you are apart of what God is doing across timezones!) “You need to watch Melissa Helser speak about ‘Winter’! It will explain the season you are in.” Of course I searched for this video right after we hung up. It was exactly what I needed to hear. Take a minute to watch below and I will finish up my thought on winter after the video.
Isn’t that beautiful? “Look at how far you can see. The clarity that winter brings…” I was able to find a longer teaching that Melissa does on the topic of seasons and she went more in depth. As I listened, the burden lifted and contentment started to settle in. It was as though I could stop fighting the season that God had me in and just say “yes” to it.
For most of us, our identity is wrapped up in what we do, but God is more interested in who we are. How are our hearts? Are we burdened? Are we tired? Are we producing the fruits of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and selfcontrol. He cares for our souls. He is concerned for the state of our roots. When we take our status/identity from being busy, from our work, what relationship we are in, our connections, even our dreams and desires, that is when I believe God wants to take care of WHO we are as that may have fallen to the side. Maybe our focus has gone off Him when our focus should always be on Him. Maybe we are just tired and we don’t know it. Maybe He wants us to rest so we are strengthened for what is ahead. His love for us will sometimes lead us into “winter” and we usually find ourselves kicking and screaming as we go. We feel like He led us into a dark cave where we cannot see; when in actuality His love has led us to a place of rest, for rest is what our mind, heart and spirit need so we can flourish in the Spring, in all that He has for us.
Winter is now a beautiful season that I embrace wholeheartedly. Don’t get me wrong, I have had moments of panic flare up because I start to get restless and my patience runs low, therefore my faith is weakened in what God is up to in my life. So I have a mini freak out. But I have embraced the rest, the defining of my identity which is rooted in Him, the clarity the season brings as I reflect on all God has done, therefore allowing myself to dream of all that He will do in the “spring”. It has allowed me to become closer to my Friend, it has forced me to face Him and have more conversations and time spent than the spring, as busy as it is, allows. It has challenged me to be confident in the rest He has me in. To stand tall.
If you find yourself in this season of quietness, stillness, nothing going on; I challenge you to ask God why you are in this place. He may say you need to be here. He may be challenging you on your identity being wrapped up in what you do rather than who you are. He may want to speak His dreams to you and this is the only place you can hear them, as your life is cluttered by the noise of life. He may just want to take care of your root system. It may only be because He knows that what’s ahead requires so much strength from you, that you need to rest now to be able to accomplish what He has for you. If He says He has drawn you here, embrace this winter. He has you here to allow you to rest, it’s His beautiful gift to you. Journeys can be draining and the time of rest is what keeps your longevity alive, your beauty beautiful, your kindness kind, your grace graceful, your faith stronger, your understanding deeper, your love more lovely. It’s not punishment that you are in winter, it’s love that you are here. He has drawn you away, He has hidden you, and it is in this place He will meet your needs and give you dreams and hopes.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her. Will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there. And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; she will sing there as in the days of her youth.” – Hosea 2:14-15 (one of my faves)
Winter is now the most valued time for me. I appreciate everything this season has to offer and wonder if I will be sad when Spring comes. Spring holds new things, blooming, answered prayers, desires fulfilled and just the busyness of life and it’s all from God, but I never want to lose the intimacy of winter. It takes more diligence and discipline to engage and press into God when life is full and that is what I mean when I say, “Will I be sad when Winter turns to Spring?” I probably won’t because of the new life and adventures that will happen but I am pretty sure you understand the tension I write of.
I write all this to encourage you, the reader, not to think it’s punishment when you find yourself in the quietness and stillness of life. I encourage you to just ask God the question, “Why am I here?”, and then embrace what He shares with you. His love will always want the best for you and He knows what you have need of. Let Him go deep in your root system so you can grow tall and strong all the while booming the most beautiful version of you.
Welcome the winter. Welcome the intimacy. Welcome the rest. Welcome the face to face.
“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in Summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in Winter.” – John Burroughs