Fall has always been my favorite time of year. I love the cool, crisp air and the spectacular array of colors that can be seen as the seasons gradually transition to the next. Watching the leaves slowly twirl and fall from the sky reminds me to stop and be more present in the moment. (Which is easier said than done when your mind is always thinking, thinking.)
As much as I look forward to and love the fall, it also reminds me of a very painful season in my life, when my father was gradually dying from a long battle with cancer. This was a time when my life just suddenly stopped. The world was still spinning and moving all around me, yet life during those months became a devastating blur. Each day so painful that it was all I could do to make it through to the next. My hero, my best friend, my go-to for wisdom and strength was slowly withering away before my eyes. We’d tried it all, even pursuing clinical trials and treatments in other countries, and there was nothing else we could do.
My heart was slowly shattering in such a way that there was no way for me to pick up and gather all the pieces. Yet as deep as the pain was, God’s closeness and his presence during this time were deeper still. He used something that by all human and physical standards should have completely wrecked me (long term), and he gave me a broader perspective of just how WIDE and how DEEP his love is for me, for us. Though my world was crumbling all around me, I had complete and total assurance that God was carrying me through it because he was.
I remember driving out to my parents’ house one day to spend time with my dad and the 30-minute drive in the country seeming unusually long. I was exhausted and in a fog, going through the motions on autopilot, when I suddenly became aware of the stunning beauty all around me. I pulled off to the side of the road and remember thinking it was ironic that as the leaves on the trees were slowly dying, it was creating the most spectacular colors – something truly extraordinary that doesn’t happen during any other season.
I sat there for a moment pondering the thought when I felt God whisper across my heart “that is what I am doing right now.” I realized that, like the leaves, as I was watching my father slowly dying, God was simultaneously doing something radiant through my broken heart. He was creating beauty from ashes and he was doing something that is most easily seen and experienced firsthand when we lean into him in our deepest storms. As dark as the world had become all around me, God had come equally closer. I’d seen and experienced him many times since becoming a Christ Follower in my late 20s, but nothing as profound as he was during this time. He’d held my heart close and had been carrying me throughout this season of devastation.
So yes, fall for me is bittersweet, yet it’s a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness. I love these words from Priscilla Shirer in one of my favorite books “God is Able.”
“God’s love for you does not grow tired or distant. That part is unchanging. He is still more than willing and able to love us so radically and so deeply, it’s beyond comprehension…there’s simply nothing He cannot do in and through your circumstance…Sometimes God’s best work is not what He does for us, but what He does inside of us.”
When you feel like your heart is breaking into a million pieces from that loss, that unexpected diagnosis, that betrayal, that thing that just took your breath away — God is more than able. He can mend the pieces and use it for something far bigger than we could ever imagine. He will not waste it.
Life can be painfully hard at times and it’s tempting to want to hide our scars. And yet so often our biggest heartbreaks and struggles in life can become our biggest callings, our biggest passions, our biggest blessings to others.
With much love,