When I was pregnant with my second child, I vividly remember lacking the vision to imagine life on the other side of my daughter’s impending birth. I wasn’t even overdue, yet I was so anxious for her arrival — to move on to that next big thing — that I was starting to imagine that she’d never come. Ha! My mother-in-law would call every day during the last week or two before her due date and every call seemed to punctuate my certainty that we in fact would never get there, as if I’d be pregnant for the rest of my life.
Why is it that it can be so natural to live life with a glass half-full, drinking in the wild wonder of it’s moments, yet it’s often as if we don’t truly believe in the hope we profess to have. At pivotal points where an unwavering hope is most called for – we falter instead. Perhaps we are most prone to stumble in the seasons in which we are actually the most invested. After all, anyone can remind themselves that Spring really will follow a long, cold winter – but it can be much harder to maintain a consistent vision for renewal and restoration to follow the dark seasons of our lives.
Fast forward years later – This weekend I was a bit weighed down with extra fatigue from a sleepless week and month #3 of bronchitis. Despite my lack of energy and motivation, I was preparing to rush out the door when in a moment of desperate honesty, I told my husband how much I was dreading leaving for my appointment. You would think I was off to the gynecologist or a tax audit or something. But no – After a week of sub-zero temperatures, I was dreading lugging my weary body out into 8 inches of snow to clear off my snugly buried vehicle. At first I didn’t think too deeply about my husband going ahead of me to clear off my car – I never asked, he just went. But it hit me once I stepped out into the bright winter wonderland this morning. Whereas I had been dreading the bitter cold, I realized the reason it suddenly seemed so peacefully perfect standing out there in the freshly falling snow, was because of my subtle attitude adjustment.
You better believe I told my husband how grateful I am for him, but more than that – I asked myself, what would it look like if I always believed there was that kind of future grace to go ahead of me, even when it wasn’t clearly announced to expect it. How might I approach dark, difficult seasons differently if I dared to dream of the redeeming outcome, even before I had eyes to see it? How would it shape my marriage, my parenting, my life if I allowed the utter abandon of wild hope to seep into my thoughts in the hardest moments? For my thoughts become my actions, and my actions become my reality.
Again and again, I’ve been reminded that if only I would choose to take the long term view, my future is brought into a focus that makes my present feel much more navigable too. Here’s what I have found to help cast vision for a hopeful future, even when it feels far from view.
They say misery loves company, but what that really means is: Look for others in a similar life stage to connect with! Your mutual understanding of the challenges of your season will buoy you both. There’s nothing worse than further discouragement because you’ve isolated yourself, believing no one can understand what you’re going through. Someone out there does, sometimes it just takes a little extra creativity to connect.
Even as it helps to connect with someone going through a similar season in life as our own, the benefit stops when we start to look a little too closely at just how similar, yet different our stories look. If you can fight the urge to compare, you will both be blessed!
Take time to look at pictures and small mementos of happy times. Your evidences of past blessing can work wonders towards reminding you that the best is yet to come!
In the meantime, celebrate the small kindnesses in life – let the little moments of unexpected joy boost your gratitude and hope for the future.
Don’t forget to connect with your spouse in the small ways, for it’s the little moments that make life big. These are exactly the moments that can help sustain a marriage through the hardest of seasons, even as you wait for future grace to carry you into the next.
Remember that despite any temporary suspicion to the contrary, we can do hard things. Surrender to the unexpected gifts of grace when you are reminded just how strong you’re being shaped to become.
Even so, give yourself grace when it’s hard. Quite simply, hard times call for big, bountiful grace!
In the meantime, allow yourself to find something to love about the life you are living, even when it doesn’t look like the life that you hoped for.
Look for the hidden beauty in each day, living each day like it may be your last. Tomorrow isn’t promised to us, so why not make the most of the days we do have – even as we wait in hope for a season of renewal to follow the season of our refining.
How might you approach the trying seasons of your life differently if you dared to dream of the redeeming outcome, even before you had eyes to see it? Do you believe that grace will go ahead of you, that what you need for each season has already been pre-planned for your good?
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28