I have a love for winter that most don’t understand. To put a caveat on this though, I do live in the South where for the most part our winters are rather mild compared to say the upper Northeast. I love snow, seeing your breath in the air, wearing mittens and coats (although I like to play the brave girl and not wear one sometimes). Seriously, every bit of it.
Well almost every bit of it.
You see I am a nature girl too, to an extent. I love plants and trees, flowers and grass. Winter brings about a pretty bleak landscape when it comes to the other thing I love, seeing things in bloom. The full color dynamic that takes place is just glorious, and for me it begs the question, “How could anyone doubt God’s existence when you see this?”
Winter sweeps that away for the most part. We are left with bare trees, dead plants and alot of greyness. Monday I realized something though as I was out for a run on an unseasonably warm day for January, even by Southern standards (63 y’all, 63 degrees). That often some things are laid bare while others are still in bloom, still growing and prospering. I noticed it in this set of trees pictured below. All the same tree, some barren others with leaves full of green and growth.
I know many of you can explain why, in horticultural terms, as to why that is occurring. However for me I couldn’t help but see that it was more than just those trees. It is our lives as well. Many of us feel like we’ve been laid bare by life, circumstances, and even God. Often that is true. We are stripped bare and in the bleakness of winter, wondering if we will continue on this way. We look around us and see growth, prospering of others in their lives. We grapple and wrestle with the reality before us that we are standing side by side with others that are just having a better go at life currently while we feel naked and stunted.
That image of the trees as I ran on Monday has stuck with me this week because what is going on beneath the surface is unseen to us, how deep the roots are going in search of richness, what might be affecting one isn’t touching another, and so on. While I have touched on the comparison trap before, I think more than ever I find it’s not so much comparison as it is uncomfortableness in the uncomfortable seasons. We aren’t sure how to navigate when others seem to be blooming and we aren’t. Doubt seeps in and we question ourselves, and God too, rather than accepting that this right now, right here is what is needed in our life to sustain us for long-term growth, to let roots dig a bit deeper for the next season. A season that might have us bearing fruit for far longer than another, shining brightly full of radiance of His care for us in the bareness of this time.
Regardless of whether you’ve stripped yourself bare or it’s been at the hands of others in your life, or through God’s work, know that you aren’t alone in it. What that picture above doesn’t capture is the line of trees where every other one was blooming, while the others were bare. Bearing fruit and deepening roots come at different times, while one is obvious the other isn’t.
My prayer is a deepening of the roots when it feels like I’m in the midst of barrenness knowing that the bearing of fruit will come in it’s time.
I wanted to share the song below with you as well if you are in the midst of being stripped bare, feeling along in it, as if life is becoming a wasteland. This song had such a deep impact on me at such a dark time that I would be remiss if I didn’t share it here.