Making Room So Something Beautiful Can Grow

How quickly have kids gone from “I hate school” on Mondays to “I hate that I can’t go back to school” on quarantine days?

How fast have we gone from “I’m soooo busy” to “I’m soooo bored, there’s nothing left on Netflix…”?

How did we get from “Ugh, I gotta duck that dude at the grocery store and hope he doesn’t see me” to “Oh man, can I please go to the grocery store and recognize someone I can socially distantly say hello to…”?

How intense was the turn from “I hate my job, my commute, and my cubicle” to wishing those early March office days were back?

It’s incredible really, when you stop and think about it.

Everything got upended. Flipped over. Tables turned.

Jobs lost. Markets crashed. Suffering and confusion all around.

Routines obliterated (like how badly our 10-year-old son whips me in Halo, an Xbox game from MY COLLEGE YEARS, that I just knew I’d crush him on during quarantine nights).

In short, we’ve all been pulled up from the roots. Unearthed.

Unfortunately (or maybe, graciously and fortunately), I know this feeling well. This whole, unearthing and overturning.

Late in 2016, it happened to me. Most of it my own doing, losing in a game I didn’t even fully realize I was playing of ‘Outrun the Pain, Trauma, and Secrets’.

They caught me. And it wasn’t pretty.

The best way to describe my experience late that fall and into the winter of 2017, was that I was blindfolded, by surprise, then shoved into a deep, dark well.

As I was falling, I was scrambling to find the solid ground again. Reaching, clawing actually, at the sides, trying to grab something sturdy to stop the fall.

And then, once I hit bottom, I’d think it was safe. But then, the bottom would give way to another deeper, darker fall.

Feel similar to what we’re all going through now?

It sucks. It’s uncertain. And it’s hard.

Again, mine was my own doing, but it didn’t stop me from screaming out to Brooke, to God, to my buddies, to whoever the hell would listen, that this wasn’t fair. Make it stop.

Not what I signed up for.

Not the way the story was supposed to go.

I had it all mapped out, or at least my ego did.

“Life doesn’t always go up and to the right,” my wise therapist wisely told me. “Success and a pain free life is an illusion, and it’s far from the truest, most secure foundation on which to build.”

That’ll preach, huh? But it’s painful.

And I think we’re all collectively wondering how in the world we got shoved into this deep well, kicking and screaming for early March when this random virus was “over there” and our focus was on Spring Break, quarterly profits, and finding ways to cope with our jam-packed, overscheduled lives.

Wait, maybe that’s just me.

In that 2016-2017 season for me, there was an album (is that what you call it when it’s not a CD anymore since it’s all on my phone) that carried me.

Andrew Peterson’s “The Burning Edge of Dawn”.

He’s a Christian songwriter, but not the happy-clappy type. The dude has clearly been kicked into a well or two in his life, there’s no denying it by listening to his lyrics.

Essentially, the entire album could be summed up like this…

Autumn feels good. Winter really sucks. Spring breaks lots of promise.

One song in particular, “The Rain Keeps Falling”, he walks us through what it must be like when the rainy season of life just won’t let up. In fact, I’ve written about this song before.

Isn’t that what we’re all kind of collectively feeling? The rain just keeps falling.

Kids out of school forever? Wonderful.

No real clarity on the economy? Lovely.

Should I wear a mask to the store? Eerie.

One more “sorry, I think I just talked over you, didn’t mean to interrupt…” on a virtual “meeting”? Awesome.

Will me or my loved ones have a significant health scare with this? Shit.

And who knows, it may keep raining for many months.

I’m trusting in something Peterson said in an interview though. When asked about the difficult, brutal, painful seasons…the rainy ones like we find ourselves in now.

He related them to a garden.

When the ground is hard. Where there’s lots of death and brown and nothingness. Then the soil gets torn up. And the seeds get sown.

I’m paraphrasing from memory, but he essentially said, “After going through these painful seasons myself, I can tell you that the Great Gardener is not mad at the soil.”

Aren’t we the soil right now? Being tilled, torn up, disheveled, undone, rattled, shaken, spread around. Wondering when it will stop.

The Great Gardener isn’t mad. In Peterson’s view, God is the Great Gardener. And He loves us.

Or maybe for you, it’s Mother Nature. And She loves us.

In the suffering, confusion, frustration, and uncertainty, it’s pretty easy to fall into the well.

Hopeless and angry at worst, or just apathetic and “wake me up when this is over and I watch every episode of all these shows”.

But what if whatever version of a Higher Power you are OK with isn’t mad?

How would our perspective change if we viewed this rainy, hard season as the necessary sowing of seeds to produce something different in our lives?

If we used this slower time to reflect instead of numb out?

Or to meditate and learn to live more in the present instead of being terrified of the future or ashamed of the past?

Or to learn to love again instead of just being busy and distracted?

It’s never that simple, I know. It’s never that black or white. Like the soil, we’ll grow some good seeds alongside some weeds.

But just because it keeps raining, and it’s really hard right now, doesn’t mean the Gardener is mad.

Perhaps, He or She is just making room and a way for something more beautiful to grow…

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