Finding Grace in the Hard Seasons of Life

It’s been a long week. A sort of marathon training of a week, if you will. Not that I’ve ever run a marathon, or trained for one. But, I know this week felt as if we were. The first in a long line of weeks that will go down in history as one of the hardest seasons of our lives.

My bones ache. I wear weary like a shroud around an elderly woman whose flesh is too thin to supply warmth any longer; worn thin from life, each precious layer disappearing into the night as she sleeps, or during the day as she’s washed babies and dishes.

In the quiet, still dark of the morning, I roll over, as is my habit, and slowly guide my arm across my husband’s body, so as not to disturb him. Finding comfort in his patterns of breathing as we sleep. What once seemed so pure, so safe, now feels like a sly attempt to check his status. Making sure all is well with him, and in return, with me and my world.

His cool chest rises and falls, slowly, in his own pattern of restful breathing. All is well, for now. Worry and fear that gripped me through the night easily cast off by this early morning ritual of waking and feeling his rhythm of breathing.

We are learning to live one day at a time.

We make no decisions for the day(s) to follow. We make no choices that will overexert, or overextend, the comfort and quality of our lives.

As can be expected, even as fresh as this new season is to the both of us; in the short amount of time we’ve been doing it, this season of life has already offered up a few lessons we are learning together.

This is a new way of living for us, and I want to remember these lessons in the future. We are learning to live by our faith to follow Christ wherever He takes us on the journey to fulfilling the dreams and desires of our hearts. I have dreams and desires of my own heart that I am hoping to see fulfilled one day, no matter the path I currently tread. And I know you have a desire to fulfill your God-given dreams, as well.

For those reasons, I felt these simple, yet profound, lessons I have been learning this week would be worth sharing here with those of you who, like me, might be finding life is throwing a lot at a person willing to walk out their faith in order to follow Christ for life.

Lesson 1: The details don’t matter to those who care…

As the mother of my nest, I am terribly protective of my brood. So much so that many times I have found myself asking for prayer without giving any reasons for it at all. Our intimate circle is so small because of my fierce desire to protect the ones I love. For anyone who truly desires to pray for and love us, they will have to learn that not every detail of our lives has to belong to them in order to do either.

I learned a long time ago, we have to be very careful with whom we share the intimate details of our lives. Not everything needs to be shared. This is just as true in our personal business, as it is in our dreams and desires – even the “good” ones.

Not everyone in our larger circle is mature enough to know how to handle our personal details. Trusting everyone to be on the same level of personal, or spiritual maturity as us is an exact indication of where we are in our maturity. Believe me, I learned this the hard way – and I’m still learning it.

Not everyone can handle the life we’ve been given to live. This is both fearful and comforting. Knowing the Lord chose us to live a life apart from anyone else is comforting for me because I know that if He took so much careful planning to create me for a specific life to live while I am on this earth, then He cares much more than I will ever understand. Of course, it’s fearful to me when I don’t fully understand how I still have absolute power of choice to decide which path I will take, and which I will not.

Lesson 2: But the details are important for those who are caring.

During this time in our lives, we’ve had many a friend in our small circle reach out to us wanting to know exactly how they can help, or what they can do, and they mean it. They are the ones who step up to care for us during this difficult season. And we are grateful for each and every one.

Not one of these important people in our lives would ask for more details than what we have shared with them already. Not one. They don’t need the details in order to spring into action. But, they are worthy. They found themselves worthy through years of testing, and trying, and showing themselves faithful to the Lord, and His heart for us, as well as our hearts for each other.

We did the dance: They suffered, we showed up. We suffered, they showed up. We each proved ourselves mature and capable of handling the trials we faced together.

Friendships like this take time to build. They do not happen overnight. And sometimes, they are for a season. It is important for each person desiring to fulfill a God-given dream to realize that sometimes we have friends for a season. These friends care, they really do. And they matter, probably the most. Because their time with us is shorter, and for a predetermined purpose. This is a God-friend. Chosen specifically to walk with us for certain seasons, to carry us into the next. Maybe even to make sure we get there.

The friends who care the most, the ones willing to walk with us regardless of the time we have together, regardless of the seasons we are facing, the ones ready to step up and move with us to help move us, those are the ones who deserve the details. Those are the ones who have been found trusting, worthy of our life’s struggles and desires. Anyone in our small circle who is willing to walk out life with us no matter what, no matter when, has earned their place in our lives and by default earns the blessing of the details.

Lesson 3: We will become experts at things we never wanted to be an expert.

I said as much to my dearest friend, the one walking close by me, holding me up in prayer and love during this time. I was on a drive, a quick trip out of the house alone, desperate to get back before much time passed at all. To pass the time and ease my anxiety of getting home quickly, I called my friend because I needed something only she could provide: normal adult conversation.

What I got was so much more than just a normal, everyday conversation with a friend. I got a peek inside her current season of motherhood. It was refreshing to the soul. I babbled with a babe rebelling from his bedtime routine, anxious to say  “hello” to the stranger who interrupted his time with mama. That tiny peek into her life felt like a healing salve to an open wound. It stung a little at first. Realizing how long ago it had been since I was needed to tuck in a little one. But, it calmed my heart in ways that I wasn’t even aware I needed.

During the ride back from the quick errand I was running, my friend still patiently with me on the other end of the phone asked the questions that have proven her my closest friend through the years. (Of course, she is not alone in proving worthy, there are a select few who, upon reading this, will know who they are.) As I began to answer her questions, or what my attempt at answering them looked like, I began to speak out loud some things I had learned in just these few short days.

I told her about a recent shower experience (because all great sermons and blogs usually originate in the shower) and how I had already begun preparing a segment for my speaking engagements in the future about this particular season of our lives.

And then, without warning, I started preaching to her, for myself:

There are seasons of life we will go through as a result of our choices. We chose those paths, we will learn from them whether that was God’s original path for us, or not. But, there are seasons of life we will go through that we did not choose, or would not have chosen, for ourselves.

Those are the ones where the Lord finds us worthy, just as we find our friends worthy.

Lesson 4: There are Rhythms of Grace for Every Season

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 2:1-10 (emphasis mine)

In the seasons of life where we wouldn’t have chosen the path we find ourselves, we tend to only be grateful in the hindsight of things, after the fact, once we have learned lessons during those seasons that we would not have learned any other way. Our character and the very nature of who we become as a result of those trials would have suffered greatly for the loss of those lessons.

And for the seasons that the Lord chooses for us?

There is a rhythm of grace for both.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved…

Ephesians 2:4-5

According to Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word for transgressions is not sin. It is parabasis, a going aside, overstepping, or deviation. This verse not only gives us hope as sinners, for our sins, but it offers hope to us as sojourners, for our goings aside, our overstepping, and our deviations, from God’s plans. There is grace for every season we walk through, whether we chose it, or not.

Rhythms of Breathing

Just as a newborn takes its first breath, ragged and afraid, sharp and quick, sometimes we will find ourselves in a trial where we do not even realize we stopped breathing. And that last breath was too quick, too sharp, to provide us with the oxygen necessary to live if we do not find for ourselves the next breath.

It is for our good, and God’s glory, that we learn to find the rhythm of our breathing through all seasons of life. When we journey through life, as we set one foot in front of the other, at whatever pace feels best for us, we must stop and also learn the simple rhythm of breathing in and breathing out.

Breathing in life before us, filling up our lungs with the good and glorious gifts of salvation, grace, mercy, and hope, taking time to reflect on the blessings of contentment, peace, faith, and love.

Breathing out the goodness of God that overflows from the goodness in our hearts will help us to live through any amount of pain and suffering we endure here on this earth.

There is a rhythm to breathing that is all our own. And there is a God who loves us enough to help us find it while we journey on in our faith to follow Him.

This article originally appeared in an older blog post on the former Faith to Follow blog site: https://reginapbrown.wordpress.com/2019/11/18/rhythms-of-breath/

4 thoughts on “Finding Grace in the Hard Seasons of Life

  1. Difficult times can be challenging to navigate. Thank you for sharing your wisdom on the matter! I absolutely love the last line — “ And there is a God who loves us enough to help us find it while we journey on in our faith to follow Him.”

  2. Wow, so many things about this post struck me, especially “Not everyone can handle the life we’ve been given to live.” The way you related this to God’s loving care for us really resonated with me, especially as someone living with chronic illness. I can tell I’m going to be thinking on this awhile. Thank you so much for these insights and sharing the unique ways God ministers to us through trials.

    1. I’m so glad this message resonated with you. Chronic Illness is vastly misunderstood. I truly believe God handpicks our lives and wants to show His love to us in uniquely chosen ways. Press in to Him and don’t be afraid to ask Him to show you how He wants you to handle what you’ve been given to best glorify Him. God bless you Cassie!

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