By Amanda Cox
Fall is here! Leaves are changing color and days getting shorter. Hopefully you’ve already picked out your outfit (maybe with a coordinating mask?) for the obligatory apple-picking pictures with friends and family. I love the familiar coziness that fall promises, but it also guarantees to yield to winter which I don’t love nearly as much.
The one certain thing about seasons is that they change. Some seasons, like fall, are fleeting, while others seem to last and last (I’m looking at you, New England winter). Some seasons are exciting and full of joy and others feel absolutely crushing.
As I’m coming into a new season in my own life, I wanted to pause and reflect on the one that I just came through. What I expected to be a depleting season actually yielded tremendous richness and blessing.
In March, when everything shut down, I was 7 months pregnant with my second child. I was understandably anxious about not just the pandemic, but also the impending birth. I desperately wanted to avoid having another cesarean section due to how physically debilitated I was after my first one. I prayed and prayed and prayed. But in June, I ended up having another cesarean section (and also a beautiful, healthy baby girl).
I was so happy to have my baby, but I was also so uncharacteristically mad.
Usually, I just get low-key annoyed when things don’t go my way. This was much more intense and I couldn’t shake it. I was mad about the physical pain, the loss of independence, and the separation I felt from my 2-year-old (Huxley) since I could no longer care for her.
My heart broke every night when Huxley would cry for me to come upstairs to say goodnight and I just physically could not do it. I couldn’t cook or clean, and I wasn’t even supposed to carry my new baby. It was crushing.
I realized I was ultimately mad at God for not giving me what I wanted, which made it feel as though He didn’t care about me. (I knew this wasn’t true, but it was really hard not to feel that way.) Having been through this before, I knew in two months all these things would be back to normal. I also remembered that in my lowest place of a similar season, God drew me closer than ever. I desperately wanted to fast forward to that part, but you can’t fast-forward real life.
After my parents and in-laws went home, I had a lot of physical restrictions and I wasn’t sure how I would manage without the extensive help they gave. Kenneth (my husband) is superhuman, but it was still a lot for him to do alone.
But then my church showed up. My FRAMILY picked me up and carried my family when I could not.
They came to play with my toddler so I could spend time with my newborn. They cleaned my house (even my bathrooms!), brought me food, cooked my own food for me, brought me groceries, and so much more. They were not afraid to serve despite the circumstances of the world.
Saying “thank you” seems enormously inadequate for what my friends, my church, did for me. The amount of selflessness and blessings was simply extravagant, and there’s no way I could ever repay everyone for all the things they did for me.
I recognized this feeling. This is the same feeling I get when I think of what Jesus has done for me: He’s cancelled a debt that I could never repay. He loves me not for what I can do for Him, but because I just am. He lavishes me with blessing and riches in so many unexpected ways.
God, in His tender way, showed me that He, in fact, had heard me. He was using HIS church to help me. He loved me extravagantly through this season just as He had before.
A key part of how my family has endured difficult seasons is that we’ve constantly invested time into people around us. Everyone who helped us was someone we had cultivated relationships with in Small Groups and while serving at church. Even though we’ve been physically distant, we’ve never actually been socially distant. We have been keeping up our relationships because we need each other!
Galatians 6:9-10 MSG “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.”
As a new season unfolds, both literally with the Fall weather and figuratively in my own heart, I want to be armed with the wisdom of the seasons I’ve come through. I don’t want to come out at the end of this pandemic in an anemic, chewed-up, defeated way squinting into a world that I don’t recognize anymore. I want to come out with strengthened relationships, new friendships, and expectant that God continues to have big things in store for us.