Just a few weeks ago, a day on the calendar gave declaration of the arrival of spring. Some of us are lamenting the absence of seasonal gifts—strong indicators spring has truly arrived. In our part of the world it has been spring-like for months; winter often feels like spring here. Even so, there is something about the longer days filling a week with hope and bird-songs that move me to consider new plants. Spring also takes me back to cold chilly March/April mornings in Ohio when grandpa would call just before the school bus arrived and say, “The lambs were born.” We would race down the road as fast as we could into the barnyard and take a peek at the adorable, wobbly, wooly lambs. To me it was so magical, but for a ewe who had labored hard all night it was anything but magic.
When springtime arrives full of fresh beauty begging to be noticed, I find a joy bubbling up inside of me at the sight of sparkling, bright color flung about on trees and shrubs. It feels a bit magical as well, but spring struggled through a hardship, not unlike the ewe in labor, in order to run through its cycle of death to life, from rest to renewal. I am fascinated by the trauma described by Cynthia Occilli, “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”
Of course being broken open isn't the end of it; once a plant has pushed its way through the hard earth, deepened its roots and sprouted, then comes the periodic pruning. The Father cuts away the unproductive places in us, places that are not healthy or functional, so we can thrive. I am convinced that most of what is good in life is the gold nugget found in a painful process. We are blessed and changed by all the big and small things causing us to surrender and die to self in order to be His vessels of life and grace. I am not trying to be an Eeyore here, but think about it: we are daily setting aside fear, hesitation, tiredness, time, who we think we are for who we are becoming, our dreams and plans so we might minister to someone. And the list goes on. Humans break open in order to be transformed and made strong.
It is gloriously painful! But oh so amazing. Coming undone so we can grow and become is common to all human beings; and somewhere on the journey each of us feel the pain of breaking open when changes take place. What is so amazing is that any one of us would choose to let this process renew our hope and allow ourselves to blossom under the duress. There are times we fight against it and long to be rescued from the painful struggle of becoming the beautiful creation we were intended to be. It is like a story I read about a person watching a butterfly struggle for release from its cocoon. The person couldn't stand by and just watch; so putting their big fingers into the cocoon's opening, they freed the butterfly and in the process brought its demise. It is in the process of struggling from the cocoon that the wings of the butterfly are made strong for flitting from blossom to blossom, feeding and pollinating for more blossoms.
There have been friendships forged out of cracked, wide-open spaces in my life. The painful and hard work of a move has expanded my view of the world and helped me grow. Divorce and being left behind were areas of brokenness I thought would destroy me, but over time beauty made its way into the cracks filling my life with things I had not expected to ever be able to experience or enjoy. The irony of pain and struggle is when we let go of controlling what will happen we often find a place inside us that breaks open to a beauty we could not have imagined. What beautiful thing has resulted from a difficulty in your life? The creation of a book, a painting, a home, a garden, starting a company, getting married again; all of these and more involve a painful process of learning, growing and letting go.