This week has been a hard week for many in the denomination that I’ve grown to love. More good men have stepped down from ministry due to moral failure. If I am honest with you, it seems to be a theme in my life. I have been close to many pastors who are now no longer serving in ministry. And when I hear news of another one, it triggers a deep familiar wound that sends me to my knees.
It’s undeniably fall, even here in Texas. The trees are losing their leaves, mornings are crisp, and the holidays are right around the corner.
It has always been my favorite time of year, but ever since my life fell apart the fall has held a special place in my heart. You see, one fall in particular brought more than just a change of weather; it changed me entirely.
A few years ago I woke up one cool morning with a splitting headache and the realization that the prior day wasn’t a nightmare; it was my new reality. Grief took a seat at our family’s table and was there to stay for a while. Heartache became the norm, and I couldn’t quite find my footing. It seemed as if everything in life was falling apart and the weather and trees were simply following suit.
But that’s the beauty of fall.
Leaves are shed, the weather changes, and with every passing day I was changing too. And the fumbling that fall brought was what the Lord used to help me find my footing in Him. God was using the furnace of suffering to forge a new me and as fall turned into winter, I became bare-boned and raw before the Lord. And that was exactly where He wanted me. The people-pleasing girl who danced throughout the summer was learning to sit quietly before a Holy God who ordained both the summers and winters in life.
And the falls, well… He ordained those too.
It was the fall that taught me that both sorrow and joy could coexist and that holidays were meant to be celebrated in both seasons of great joy and deep sorrow. It was the stripping of the leaves that showed me that sometimes less was better than more, and depth was more valuable than breadth. And the cool air that took my first mornings’ breath away reminded me that my hope was not here in earthly joys, but in an eternal one. Fall taught me it was okay to not always be okay, and that the Lord who ordained every celebration, also ordained every heartache. And just as quickly as one season begins, it will also come to an end.
The fall took so much away, and winter was cold and barren, yet spring couldn’t come and fully be enjoyed without those two difficult seasons. Never have I loved a Springtime more than the one that followed such a cold and stripping season.
Years later, this sweet season both stings and brings an immense amount of comfort. And that is why it is still my favorite. I look at the changing season and am reminded that this side of glory both sorrow and joy commingle together to create a beautiful story of redemption. I sip the cider, let the cool air chill my cheeks, and I am comforted knowing that we serve a King who ordains every season, every change, & He cares about every leaf that falls. He ordains every valley and every mountain, and He oversees abundance and scarcity. And as I sit here with scars that will always remind me of the fall, I’m warmed by a resilient faith that was forged in that glorious season. For the healing that gave birth to those scars is evidence that our God redeems and restores.
Fall is my season of remembrance. Look what the Lord has done and is constantly redeeming.
The leaves may change and your life might fall apart, but “The steadfast love of the Lord NEVER ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV
Wishing you a Happy Fall and all that it entails. Praying that as the season changes, you do too and you find comfort in a Redeemer who never does. Because even on the coldest of days, the journey is still worth it all.
I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like everybody is trying to be somebody these days.
A few months ago, I attended a writers conference and sat around a table with women with book deals, podcasters, and women’s discipleship pastors at large well known churches. Over a two day period it kept happening. I’d sit down to eat and we would go around the table saying why we’re all there, and eventually it would be my turn and I meekly say, “Um, I’m just a mother and a freelance writer slash kinda blogger.” Everyone was kind and no one judged me for not having an “official” platform, but as the important people rubbed elbows I walked away defeatedly singing “One of these things is not like the others.”
There is nothing like feeling like the biggest nobody amongst a group of known and loved somebodies. Frustrated and small, I cried out to God, "WHY AM I HERE?" but in that moment the Spirit simply whispered, “It’s ok to be small.”
About a month later I received a few inquiries about “creating a brand” and “growing my platform” with the promise of hopefully landing a book deal. At first it was flattering as my pride grew. "See I am somebody!" I told myself. But after some time and prayer the whole thing felt disingenuous, like I was trying to force something rather than let the Lord grow something. So again, I walked away from those conversations headed down a different unknown path, again feeling defeated.
And in the quiet I heard, “It’s ok to pursue small.”
I tell you all this not to brag (um no), but rather to share with you something completely counter cultural that I’m constantly learning and relearning. This world has told us to pursue our dreams, to go out there and be somebody! Find a stage, create a platform, and seek fame/affirmation at any cost. But what I’ve learned in the last few years is that this desire to be seen is poisonous. And I can say that because I have fallen prey to it time and time agian.
There have been many seasons when I bought the lie that the breadth of my audience was what determined the faithfulness and effectiveness of my work. I have spent seasons of my life writing with the goal of “getting seen” rather than being faithful, and the last few years of my life have been so sweet because the Lord has given me the freedom to pursue the small, the unseen. I’m not saying it’s easy or even that I do it well (because I don’t), but I am slowly learning the value of the unseen, the small.
I’m learning that showing up to a Bible study and making space for other people to lead has just as much (if not more) value as being the main event. I’m discovering that discipleship can look like having the next generation over to my house while I’m in sweatpants and chasing three small kids, instead of speaking from a stage. I have learned the hard way that being a beacon of restoration can look like serving overseas and giving up a life of comfort, but it can also look like doing life faithfully here by serving your family, forgiving your spouse, and serving your local church. And praise Jesus, I finally understand that when I serve a refugee or the poor or marginalized, it doesn’t have to be broadcasted all over social media.
These lessons are hard for those of us with strong leadership/type A personalities. We long to be seen, to lead, to conquer the world! But before anyone can lead, we must first embrace that God has called us to the unseen, upside-down life that the Gospel brings. He calls us to take up our cross and follow Jesus, the one who has already conquered the world.
Does that mean that we forsake our personalities and callings? No.
Does that mean we never lead or pursue big dreams? No.
But it does give us freedom to pursue the small. To forsake what the world tells us is grand and cling to the one thing that matters: Jesus.
There is freedom in knowing you don’t have to be anybody because Somebody paid it all for everybody.
There is freedom in quietly pursuing the disciplines of life and ministry without pursuing man’s praise or approval.
There is freedom in not looking left or right at others as they pursue their callings, and just sticking to the course He has called you to.
There is freedom in being a nobody instead of being obsessed with becoming a somebody.
There is freedom to be small.
Hoping with you and cheering you on in the most ordinary small things,