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I love spring. It's probably my favorite season and I look forward to it with eager anticipation. Winter in Michigan seems to drag on forever, with this year being no different. Recently, I was driving along, reveling in the recent arrival of 'spring-ness', when my mind began to wander. It has a tendency to do that and often I will arrive at my destination with no recollection of how I got there- a rather dangerous habit, to be sure.
My spirit hummed, lifted by warm breezes, sunshine, and rising temperatures. I was thanking God for His glorious creation when my glance happened on a bush that looked a bit out of place: it was barely budding, no green leaves in sight, apparently a later bloomer. The soil around the bottom was hard and dead. It almost pained me that no one had taken the time to nurture the poor thing or at least break up the unyielding ground so that nourishing spring showers could sink in. It almost seemed to cry out for help, as if it were saying “Somebody please set me free!”
This gave me pause to consider what had happened to me in the last year...
My life had become like the bush: dried up, yearning for spring and the release of new life. While attempting to run things my way, I ended up feeling alone and abandoned, struggling emotionally. Languishing in my pain, trying everything I could in my own strength, there were times I wondered if I would ever be 'ok' again- or if I ever really had been. My soil had become so hard, even God couldn't penetrate it.
As time went on, I continued to spiral downward, becoming a recluse. Depression had plagued me in the past and I began to fear its return. While medication was an answer at one time, I knew that I really didn't want to consider that option again as the physical side effects were almost worse than the emotional trauma. As my isolation increased, so did my despair- a vicious cycle.
My family stood by and watched helplessly. When questioned, I would become defensive and tell them I was fine. Heaven forbid I risk being vulnerable and honest. They didn't know what to do so they left me to my own devices. I got exactly what I wanted: for everyone to leave me alone so I could feed my abandonment monster. We certainly are complicated creatures.
I sought counseling (that's what you're supposed to do, right?) In the past, it had helped but this time it felt like I was just spinning my wheels. What possible good could come from ruminating and rehashing? I whined and cried at the injustices of the world. Why wasn't life fair? What happened to those who supposedly loved and cared about me? I had always 'been there' for my friends and when I needed them most, they had all left me. Where was God in this mess? Probably busy--He wouldn't understand anyway...
One morning as I feebly attempted to pray, God began to speak to my hardened heart. It took a while to penetrate, as the winter's freezing temperatures and harsh winds had taken a toll. Snow had been piled on it for so long, it would take the Holy Spirit in all His power to melt it away.
The Bible talks about how the Lord wasn't in the fire, storm, or earthquake but in the still small voice afterwards. As He continued to whisper in my ear, exposing the stony places, His healing touch began to pour into my spirit and ever so slowly, things began to change. My bitter, angry heart began to soften as well and become pliable in His hands. None of this happened during my self-created crisis or rants about the injustices of life, but after I began to listen for His voice out of obedience. By allowing Him in to heal and nurture, the rocky territory began to yield and hope replaced despair. At last, my springtime had come.
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