“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
Proverbs 19:21 NIV
Like most people I have BIG plans for my life. As a little girl I aspired to be a Solid Gold dancer or a singing contestant on Star Search. Don’t judge (but please feel free to laugh out loud!) Any child of the 80’s with a creative mind like mine and a gift for making a fool out of themselves in front of a crowd, had the same dreams. When I was 12, I wanted to be president of the United States. By the time I completed high school my goal was to earn my college degree, get married, become a mom and have a successful career helping troubled teens. On my 25th birthday I cried-I had only accomplished one of my goals and I was working 3 jobs just to make ends meet. Now at 40, I am a single mom working 2 jobs, still struggling to make ends meet and clearly in the midst of a mid-life crisis. Today I want to travel and touch lives all over the world letting people and orphans know they matter and they are loved.
The past couple of months I have been restless- physically, emotionally and spiritually. This restlessness has boiled into fear and anxiety. It’s become a serious condition like a rash that takes over your entire body or a virus that eats you from the inside out. It invades my dreams, it wakes me in the middle of the night and it robs my joy during the day. The simplest task can become easily overwhelming when fear is hitting me full blast. I become easily angered or I sob. I’m exhausted but can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep because my mind simply won’t shut down or be still. People who know this struggle about me often ask what I’m so anxious about. Sometimes I tell them I don’t know. But I think I’ve figured it out. I simply feel stuck. My life feels stuck in a season of winter and at this age of my life, I am afraid I will stay stuck in winter forever.
Did I mention I HATE winter? I’m speaking of the actual season. Where I live we get very cold, very long and very snowy/icy winters. Days are dull and skies are gray. Many days I drive to and from work in the dark and never see any daylight. I get quite depressed. By the time February and March arrive I am anxious for warm days, sun filled skies and for all the snow to melt away. We tend to get a mid-winter thaw-a few warm days here and there but then we get slammed with more cold, more snow and more ice. April arrives and I check the weather daily hoping for a hint of even 50 degree (10c) weather. And in May, I celebrate the colors of green, the blooming of apple blossoms and spring time flowers. I relish the smell of the first lawn mowing and celebrate the year’s first real thunderstorm. I buy my park pass and count down the days until the lakes are warm enough to swim in while planning out my beach days for the summer. My spirits lift as I think snow is finally gone and my toes will be buried in the sand in not time.
This past weekend, in Mid-May, it snowed! As I woke Sunday morning to a dusting of white powder covering my lawn, I reflected on my life and feeling stuck in a winter season. I have so many plans for my life, yet none of them seem to be coming to fruition. It’s like my life has come to a standstill with no hopes of moving forward relationally, financially, spiritually or even in my career. Seeing that snow outside my window, I thought “That’s it, winter is never going to end, summer is never going to arrive. All my beach days are never going to happen.” Reflecting on my life, I tend to think “My dreams are dead. This is it. This is as good as it gets. God just wants me stuck.”
But God has a different answer. Weather wise, He’s shown it by gifting us with a prediction of 70 degree temps (21c) later this week. Life wise, He says “Don’t worry,” (Matthew 6:34.) He keeps sending me Proverbs 19:21 and a few other verses like Job 23:14 and Isaiah 46:10. He gently reminds me that His way is better than my way and I simply need to surrender my hopes and dreams to Him. After all, every dream He planted in my heart will come to pass in His time. Because patience is not a virtue I was born with and God knows I LOVE being in control, He makes me wait, refining me and conditioning me into the Kingdom Woman He designed me to be to do the big things He has planned for me. Dreams He’s already shown me, I’ve turned into idols and tried manufacturing my own miracles instead of trusting Him to bring them to pass. I always lose when I get in God’s way.
Winter is a time when days are shorter and life slows down. This winter season in my life is God’s way of teaching me to just “be still.” I make myself restless because instead of obeying Him, I act like a crazy hamster in a plastic wheel running a race that will never end, chasing after empty things, and going absolutely nowhere. If you’re in this same season, remember this-a wise woman recently told me, “There’s never been a year summer didn’t come.” With that I will add, there’s not a story in the Bible where God’s dreams and purpose didn’t happen either. Practice being still, practice trusting in Him and read His word every day. When someone I love dearly was going through an incredibly difficult time, we read the book of Psalms together. Psalms was the same book suggested to me just this week to read and pray, as a means to overcome my fears and anxiety.
Lastly, find contentment in every day no matter how long you’ve been waiting, longing and praying. Most importantly-don’t lose hope, but place your hope in the One who gives us something to hope for.