Finding Joy in Hard Seasons

I’ve been looking for a peace of mind /
I’ve been looking for a reason why /
This aching in my soul / Has torn me in two /
A pain no one could know / But only you. /
//When I can’t catch my breath /
And there’s nothing left to hold on to /
I’m holding onto you.
-Carrollton

As the time changes and the landscape starts to dim, it seems so easy to simply shift with the dark that is settling in and fall into a season of sadness.

I have a habit of that, a past history if you will, of falling prey to the wintertime blues. Even though the time change is in the middle of Fall, when it starts getting dark at 4:30 in the evening, I’m much more apt to believe that winter will be here shortly, rearing its ugly head, and all I want to do is give up on my hobbies, passions, and health, and fall into a wallow of sleep, comfort food, and Netflix.

These last few months I’ve found myself back in a difficult season. We all know the old adage that life has its ups and downs, and I’m no stranger to a hard season. In fact, when I look back on my life, I can pinpoint at least two major seasons within the last eight years that I thought I would never walk out of. Today, it’s much easier to see how those two seasons of grief drew me closer to God and produced so much good on the other side, revealing more of my original design and guiding me into a closer relationship with Him.

But when you’re in the midst of a hard season, it’s sometimes impossible to see the other side.

This currant season holds the same struggle I seem to continually fight–of job vs calling–of what am I doing with my life to advance the kingdom?–of chasing my dreams but add to that childbearing difficulties which in turn brings more stress on a marriage, and then there’s always the financial stress at the holidays, and I’ve found myself wondering lately, if maybe, I’m just doing it to myself. Settling in on these hard places, dwelling on the negative, and sinking deeper into worry and anxiety because I don’t want to breathe through it.

I keep saying how hard this season that I’m in seems to be, and I wonder if that repetitive thought has somehow weaseled its way into my soul, muting the joy that I usually radiate.

But then yesterday, n a photograph my husband took during an impromptu yoga photo shoot, I glimpsed the Holy Spirit.

IMG_0218.JPG

He captured this during the in between moments of poses, and in looking at myself, I was reminded of how deep God’s joy settles into us. That even when we’re in the mist of a season of grief or worry, His joy never truly leaves us.

He never leaves us.

When I saw this photo, I began to understand this hard season is not a lie I’m believing.
This hard season is not something I am purposefully falling deeper into.
I began to see this season of hardness as one the Spirit is allowing me to understand that I am in while I am in the midst of it.

He is telling me this is a season of waiting.
He is, in fact, inviting me into this liminal space–the space in-between–because He is calling me deeper into Him.

He is calling me to give Him my burdens and receive His strength in joy.

Because I cannot grow in faith if I don’t first walk through the fire.

When we are in the in-between, He never leaves us. Nor forsakes us.
He’s there, in the liminal spaces, His strength our JOY. (Neh 8:10, NIV)

And when we think we have nothing left to hold onto, he tells us “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened.” For I have been there. “I will show you the unforced rhythms of grace. You will learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt 11:28-30, NIV/MSG)

His burden to bear.
Our joy to receive.

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