“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.”
One of the things that I love most about Utah is the fact that we have all four seasons. There’s always so much beauty and adventure that awaits each new season and this verse constantly reminds me that the same is true with life. When we go through different seasons, we become “seasoned”. Not just seasoned in the, “I’ve got a lot of experience” sense, but seasoned in a way that food becomes more delectable when we add a dash of pepper here and a pinch of salt there. Seasons of life – whether good or bad – teach us so much about ourselves and others. If we allow ourselves to embrace the seasonal variety, we undoubtedly will become more empathetic, gracious and courageous versions of ourselves. My current state of seasoning is marinating. Being still, yet knowing there’s a churning going on deep beneath the surface.
Still. Something I’m not so good at. This time last year, a stirring started in my soul. A stirring that something was coming, something BIG. To most people, this stirring might be chalked up to being cooped up all winter and needing some good ole vitamin D. But for me, I knew it was different. There are only two other times in my life that I have experienced this feeling. Both of which had major life changes that began unfolding months after the first spoon hit the pot. These life changes were ones that I knew God was leading me into, but were still difficult as they didn’t always meet the approval of people around me. They required every bit of bravery and trust buried deep inside me, because on the outside, I was shaking with fear.
When these feelings started making themselves known the beginning of last year, my initial reaction was excitement, anticipation and a general sense of uneasiness. Fast forward 8 months and those feelings changed to frustration, questioning and even more uneasiness. Eight months had come and gone, and in my eyes, not one thing had changed. I was still in the same house, at the same job, struggling with the same feeling that there was something more out there for me. Adding to the mix was my ever-present and always critical inner voice. Always accusing me of not doing enough. And of course, the things I did do, I did wrong. Anyone who struggles with perfectionism can attest that this was the perfect storm. Bring on the anxiety and depression! I felt like I was going crazy.
And then I remembered something that God told me right about the time when this stirring first came about. “Be still,” he whispered. “Be still and know that I’m God. Be still and just watch me work.” Still? Um, sorry God, I know you created me and all, but DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME? Homegirl doesn’t do still. In fact, what is this “still” that you speak of? Because unless it involves running, triathlons, obstacle course races or general types of achievement, it’s probably not on my list of to-dos. Nope, just checked. It’s not on there and in fact, it got replaced by “Gilmore Girls” Netflix marathon (#teamJess).
There in lied my problem. I took this stirring as a queue that I needed to prepare and kick things up a notch. Maybe I should actually be the one doing the stirring? Uh, Jesus, can you step aside? I think you should actually stir the spoon counter-clockwise. Yeah, it’s getting a little bubbly on that side.
Pa-lease. No one likes that girl. But Jesus just patiently sat and smiled at me and my Martha self. Running around like a mad-woman. Winning races, succeeding at work, being an overall-girl boss and feeling more empty and unfulfilled than ever. That was me.
When I finally had burned myself out from all of the things that I loved and drained any inner resource that was stored up inside me, I sat in a pile on the ground, exhausted and wondering what I had done wrong. It’s at this point that that big ole softy of a guy – Jesus Cristo (said with a Spanish accent) – sat down right beside me, offered me a bowl of that soup that he’d been making, and let me cry it out. In my solace, I discovered something. The stirring that was going on inside me was not fabricated by me nor was it something that I needed to maintain or turn into something else. It was a gift. A gift that has a surprise ending, and all I needed to do was sit back and enjoy the party. But instead of enjoying my party with the surprise ending, I was trying to make sure I did everything possible to plan the party. Imagine, throwing someone a surprise birthday party and then upon surprising them, they scream in delight, grab the party planning stick and start telling everyone how to make the cake and decorate the house. They also start buying their own birthday presents, and, thanks to Amazon prime, they should be here in two minutes! But the cake has already been made, the gifts have already been wrapped and the decorations have already been hung. What is this crazy person doing?
Now, of course I’m alone in this. No other person has ever tried to plan their own surprise party. But, in the off-chance that I’m not alone in my craziness, can I just invite you to sit beside me at the table? Sit beside me and enjoy all the good things that come with this stirring. We may not know what the ultimate surprise is that comes at the end of the party, but we can enjoy the journey getting there. Because the journey getting there looks something like this: your favorite birthday cake, complete with sprinkles, a Wonder Woman cake topper, and the most delicious frosting you’ve ever tasted! (Be sure to make a wish before you blow out the candles!) Next up is opening presents, bought for you by someone who knows you better than you know yourself. That’s right, some of those presents we get to open are gifts that have been buried deep within our hearts – now we get to open and play with them! Relationships – being surrounded by people who want to champion and celebrate YOU and your success! Streamers and confetti – because environment is half the fun!
Wow! Who knew being still could be so much fun! And you thought this was going to be boring?! What was it that they said at Pentecost? “Ain’t no party like a Holy Ghost party”?! Right.
When you’re done fighting the stillness, you’re ready to embrace peace, hope, the deepest love and let’s not forget, a whole lot of fun! I still have no idea what the stirring inside of me means, but I do know that it’s for a reason. And the reason for this season is for me to be still and let God reveal himself both to me and within me. I’m excited for this journey and excited to have you along with me! No matter what season of life you’re in, whether it’s barbecue season, marinating season, feasting season, summer, spring, winter, fall, I hope you’ll listen for that gentle whisper. I hope you’ll be brave enough to ask for the whisper and courageous enough to obey it. Because that whisper is the key for unlocking our most fulfilled and joyful selves! Welcome one and all. It’s going to be a party!