When Life Gets Muddy – 3 Lessons We Can Learn from Spring
I’m noticing the return of birdsong to our neighborhood today—marveling at the daffodils pushing their way from the ground after winter’s harsh bite. I’m a middle-aged woman, but I feel my little girl self rising inside: I dance around in morning sunshine and stomp my feet through puddles of melted snow when I enjoy an evening walk.
Spring is glorious, isn’t it?
But just this morning, I was reminded by the morning news that spring is not all gentle birdsong and warm breezes. Weather grabbed top-of-the-reel headlines today: Deadly tornadoes blowing through the South. Images of Midwest snowstorms and flooding flashing across the screen. Spring brings color and hope to the word: But it’s also stormy and messy and unpredictable.
Nature reveals a truth here, friends. The seasons come and go with a beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness, their predictability that keeps us grounded and hopeful. But they also come with times of transition: And these seasons tend to be sloppy and full of surprises.
I remember some of my own transitions. Looking for that first after-college job—and then being “let go” a couple years later. Hearing a heart-breaking diagnosis affecting my fertility in our early years of marriage—and then the joyful additions of two children to our family several years later. Stirring up the embers of my writing dreams again to start this blog. With each of these transitions—both the good and the bad—my world shifted, and both my body and soul needed time to adjust.
And let me just say—the adjustments were not always graceful. There were moments of wonder and joy and excitement, to be sure. But I must also own the times of questioning my ability, middle-of-the-night anxieties, and tears of frustration as I tried to figure out and accept the new normal.
Where are you today, friend? Is life pushing you toward an exciting change—maybe a new job, or a new baby, or a new home? Or maybe you’re feeling the first cold winds of struggle starting to blow— An unexpected health diagnosis. A marriage that’s hitting the rocks. New financial pressures. Maybe your “new” season has been dragging on for years—but somehow life still feels muddy and you don’t quite feel adjusted.
In any transition—whether it looks hopeful or bleak—our lives tend to feel messy and unpredictable. We may swing from hope and joy at one moment to uncertainty and doubt the next. Change—whether welcome or not—throws us off balance. Like stumbling toddlers, we have to learn to walk anew.
But as I look out my window this morning, I hear God’s creation whispering some wisdom to our hearts in transition; simple truths that will sustain us through these muddy beginnings. So let’s listen, shall we? Maybe these lessons from Spring can help you weather the storms ahead.
1. Embrace the Mystery
Does anyone know when Spring really arrives? I know, there’s a date on the calendar: But nature rarely obeys this scientifically-mandated day: I’ve seen snowflakes and ice on the “first day of Spring.”
The moment the first crocus will bloom can’t be marked on any calendar. The exact day when that final patch of snow melts away can vary by months. Sometimes the seasons dance around each other for a bit, spring taking center stage for a week and then pausing while winter spins a few last snowy pirouettes. In the middle of it all, we don’t quite know what to expect: We find ourselves stuck in the rain without a jacket one moment, and then regretting our heavy sweatshirt when the sun breaks out unexpectedly the next. All the unpredictability and change can make us feel frustrated and out of sorts.
But isn’t it all a wonder?!
Right there—in the middle of tempestuous temperatures, fickle forms of precipitation, and constant wardrobe adjustments—dead things come back to life! Bare tree branches transform into auras of pulsing green. Withered landscapes burst into a riot of colorful flowers and grasses. Birds return to lay tiny, little miracles in their nests.
And it all happens completely and wonderfully out of our control.
If we embrace this mystery, it can point us to peace amidst our unpredictable seasons. Because all these little mysteries point us to the One who holds the season in His hands: They remind us that we are not ultimately in control of our little destinies, any more than the tiny robin singing outside our window. God holds us all in the palm of his tremendously capable hands.
Change is hard. It tempts us toward worry and fear about all the uncertainties in the road ahead. But what if we stopped and look around us instead? What if we acknowledged the wonder of this universe, the mystery of our existence on this abundant little planet that’s full of life and beauty?
What if we released the worries and plans we’re clutching so tightly and embraced the wonder of being held in God’s hands?
Life can be stale and quiet in one season, and full of stormy changes the next. But it’s not ultimately our job to determine the timing or fix all the outcomes: It’s God’s. There’s a mystery to his ways that can befuddle us and spin life out of our control. But we can rest in this: God knows all the mysteries—and he always stirs them toward abundant life.
2. Know the Limits of Your Season
I slipped my bare toes into a pair of ballet flats yesterday, and it felt heavenly after months of thick socks and boots. I had a little skip in my step as I grabbed a lightweight jacket and headed out to a church meeting. But later in the day, when the shy sun hid herself away and temperatures took a dip, my numb toes cried for mercy and I returned to my sock drawer in surrender.
Whether we like it or not, nature dictates when it’s time to change our wardrobe. We pull out boxes of hats, scarfs, and mittens for winter, and replace them with sandals and sunscreen when summertime comes. Sure, we can fight it, if we want—but if we refuse to don the appropriate attire for the season, we’ll be shivering or sweating our way through the day!
It strikes me that we can fight against our personal seasons, too. It’s so easy to look around at others and feel like we should do more things or different things. We scroll through social media and feel guilty that we aren’t giving our family the same opportunities that others have. Or we leave a conversation with friends feeling guilty that we don’t volunteer more or work more or (fill in the blank) more.
But dear friends, we must remember that we’re all living in different seasons—with different limitations, gifts, and levels of support around us. What God expects of all those others right now might not be what he’s expecting of you. Especially when you’re in a season of transition, grappling with big emotions and learning how to adjust to something new.
We can fight against our limitations, sure. We can try to ignore the weather that make our lives different from the ones we admire. But if we do this, we’ll find ourselves shivering and shaking our way through the life God has called us to live.
We don’t set out in January blizzards dressed in a swimsuit and cover-up and try to jump into frozen lakes. So why do we often ignore the “weather” in our own lives, adding activities and expectations to ourselves even when we’re already running ragged or feeling overwhelmed? Why does a young mom feel the need to match the pace of an empty-nester? Or a full-time, working parent to live out the same calling as her stay-at-home neighbor who loves to volunteer?
God understands the limitations of our transitions, and he calls us to our kingdom work with grace for those limits. Yet how often do we ignore His quiet, reassuring voice, and listen to guilt instead—guilt born of comparison rather than calling from God.
Sometimes our lives open up and allow us to take on more. Sometimes they close in with challenges that require us to let go of some things. And in the midst of transitions, we’ll probably struggle back and forth with lots of little adjustments along the way. But we don’t have to struggle with unfair guilt: It’s okay to dress for our own season instead of trying to live up to those around us.
3. Wait on the Blooms
Colorful tulips. Laughing daffodils. Tiny little crocuses. I love these springtime blooms that transform patches of mud into blankets of bright color in the spring. But gardeners know the truth about these lovely springtime friends: For they do not pop up “suddenly” at all. They grow from bulbs, which were planted months earlier when autumn leaves blew through the air. Lying dark and quiet under the ground, they had to wait through winters’ storms before finally bursting into life.
Some of us, as we plant new seeds and make new transitions in our lives, long for instant blooms. We want to quickly adjust and make sense of the new normal. We want to see positive results for our new endeavor right away. We want all the growth of the season to happen on day one—instead of accepting the slow process of mistakes and missteps that generally lead to growth over time.
And when we don’t see this instant growth? Well, if you’re anything like me, that’s when you tend to fuss and fear.
As we start new things, there’s a temptation to manufacture our own progress instead of waiting on God’s timing. But sometimes changes takes a long time. We don’t always work with seeds that quickly germinate and sprout: Success may be a bulb planted deep underground that requires a long season to grow. If we ignore God’s quiet voice telling us to be patient, to let things run their course, we might miss the miracle he’s working on under the surface. We end up settling for our own limited success instead of reaching our real potential. Our, even worse, we just give up altogether.
Are there dreams on your heart today? Doubts and uncertainties about whether you’ll ever reach your goal or make it through? Are there ideas and passions stirring—and yet they don’t seem to be coming together the way you want?
Sometimes, friend, you just need to wait. Give it time. Trust that God’s there, bringing things to life beneath the surface.
There is no other way for things of beauty to grow.
In the end, that’s the most beautiful lesson of spring, I think: New life will triumph. Seeds will sprout, eggs will hatch, and the whole earth will shimmer with the colors of a billion blooms. Abundant life is nature’s way, because it reflects the heart of its Creator.
Whatever change you face today, I hope you find peace in these little lessons from nature. God’s woven a million reminders of his love into the world around us. So whatever changes you face, whatever uncertainties and challenges hover in your future—I hope you find rest in that love. God’s always bringing good things to life: He hasn’t missed a spring yet.
And he’s got you.
Luke 12: 24-32: “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you . . . Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
So well written!!
Simply beautiful and so encouraging. Thank you!