When I moved to Alaska in September of 2014, I had never heard of "break-up season." In fact, the first time I ever heard the phrase, I giggled because I thought it was a joke. Then March rolled around, and I suddenly realized break-up season is a real thing. A very real thing.
Over the course of a Fairbanks winter, we accumulate quite a bit of snow and it stays very, very cold (we're talking as cold as 40 degrees below zero! And I moved here from the beaches of Florida!). I'm from Oklahoma, so I'm used to getting a little bit of snow and then seeing no trace of it within a day or two. But it's much different here. It stays. And accumulates. And freezes. And you think it will never, ever melt.
But then it starts to get warm (by "warm," I mean 30 or 40 degrees.) And the sun starts rising higher in the sky and hanging around for more of the day – a wonderful change from the long, dark winters we get. And you start seeing a few little puddles here and there where the snow has melted during the day (and then refreezes at night). But it gives you a tiny glimmer of hope. The sun is shining! Snow is melting! Spring is coming!
Within a couple weeks of the "warm" temperatures, the scenery looks completely different. As the piles and piles of snow and ice melt, it turns to slush, and the dirt below turns to mud. The next thing you know, your feet are sinking underneath you and you just ruined your brand new shoes. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.) You quickly realize you can't go anywhere without your rain boots, even if it means carrying a cuter pair of shoes in your bag to change into when you get where you're going. Your car becomes a moving mass of dried mud, and it's essentially pointless to waste $15 on a car wash when you just have to drive down your muddy road to get home. Your floorboards are filthy. You find yourself vacuuming your house every other day (or just recognizing that it needs to be done, but not actually doing it. Again – hypothetical.) You want to take your toddler for a walk to enjoy the beautiful weather, but you realize that leaving your driveway means pushing the stroller through nothing but slush and mud. Uh, no thanks.
This is break-up season.
It's nasty. It's filthy. It's ugly. It's even a little inconvenient. But yesterday I learned to appreciate it.
I got home from work and put my daughter down for a nap. I looked out the window to our backyard and saw the sun shining so beautifully on our deck. It was practically calling my name. I quickly gathered a book, my computer, the baby monitor, some water, and a little snack and hurried outside. As I sat on the deck, I began to soak it all in. I could hear the water running off the house, down the gutters, as the snow melted. I could see patches of grass peeking through the snow – some of it was even beginning to turn green! I could hear kids playing outside (but that's not incredibly abnormal considering our kids go out to recess until its 20 degrees below zero or colder!). The sun was shining. It was almost 50 degrees. It was beautiful. My heart was getting so excited because I began to see signs of my favorite season, summer.
That's when I spoke these words: "Thank you, Lord, for this mess because it reminds me that something beautiful is coming."
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I don't know what mess you're in today, but chances are – since you're human – there's probably some kind of "mess" in your life right now. Something that isn't exactly pretty. Something that's a little inconvenient.
Can I encourage you to keep your eyes up? Stop looking down at all the mud. Stop focusing on all the filthy, inconvenient parts of the season you're in. Maybe it's not your favorite season of life, but I bet you can find a glimmer of hope if you take the time to look.
If you can just lift your eyes up a little, you might see that tiny patch of green grass peeking out from underneath the snow.
And if you can lift your eyes a little higher, you might see a bird perched on a tree singing her joyful song.
And if you can lift your eyes even a little higher, you might see that beautiful sunshine reminding you that the next season is, in fact, coming.
This season you're in – it might not be easy or pretty. It might be hard to appreciate at surface level. But this season you're in – it's getting you from winter to summer. From darkness to light. From dead to alive. From where you were to where you want to be.
You won't be stuck here forever. Keep trudging through the mud. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep looking for hope.
God won't just pluck you out of a hard season. He helps you grow into the person you need to be in order to step out of that season.
It's hard work. But worth it. Something beautiful is coming.
I challenge you to speak these words aloud. Maybe even write them down and plaster them where you'll see them often.
Thank you, Lord, for this mess because it reminds me that something beautiful is coming.
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"Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in" (Hebrews 12:2 MSG).
"For everything there is a season..." (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
"We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God..." (Hebrews 6:19).