The rain sweeps in like a fine mist, and beneath the cool air I can taste the frshness of a long awaited spring. The piles of snow melt like summer glaciers at the end of the driveway and I can't help but sigh a grateful prayer of thanks for the coming wave of spring. It feels like I have been cold all winter, the endless snow storms and huddled walks in my parka, from one cold environment to another, have left me somewhat exhausted. Hopefully those days are gone, and the record snowfall of 2008 is behind us.
It's hard sometimes, for people in say, California or Italy to appreciate the change in seasons, espcially from winter to spring. When the weather is perpetually nice, it's difficult to understand what a simple pleasure it is to walk outside without a coat (and that's assuming you are lucky enough to own one) There is a sense, at least for me, that during the winter the weather exerts a great deal of control over my life. How cold is it? Is it snowing? What about my car? How will I get there? The winter offers nothing but questions for seemingly every proposition. In the spring however, so many of those questions are put back into my hands. Transportation. (I can always walk or ride a bike) What I wear. Safety concerns. There is a sense in spring that I regain some measure of control over my life. Perhaps that is why we tend to find the change in season so exhilirating.
Unfortunately, for most of us it is merely an illusion. Many of us will have the same spring we had last year. Not because we're happy, but because we're so afraid to change. Even the most content, joyous person in the world must occasionally change their life, because the inevitable nature of humanity is dynamic. We can become greedier, more egocentric, more selfish. We can become more lonely, more discouraged. More depressed. Or, we can become more unselfish, more giving, more patient and more merciful. The key here, is that the choice of being static is not up to us.
People often say "You haven't changed at all", but we understand that of course we change, even if we look the same. (Especially for those of us who shave our heads) But HOW have we changed and what part of ourselves are we nurturing towards growth is what matters.
I bump into so many people every day who are eking out a life, existing instead of living. Sure, it was a long winter. And we do need to rest. But we can not rest too long, because when we do, we slowly stop making the choices we need to carve out the life God has planned for us.
That part we have to do ourselves. God walks with us, but we still have to walk.
Here's an idea. Think of one thing you have always wanted to do, and have never done. Something challenging, something that addresses certain fears (e.g. skydiving) or certain goals (e.g. write a column for a newspaper). Resolve yourself to attain that goal by the end of this year, and start by taking baby steps towards it (research, writing, etc...) I think you'll find that every time you address a particularly desirable (or undesirable) challenge you unveil a key aspect of your own personality. This is growth. The more we learn about ourselves, the better suited we will be to put our fears behind us, and to cut the chains from past experiences that do nothing but weigh us down. The other important part of learning who we are is to allow God to examine our hearts, to humble ourselves before the One who created us.
I know there are commentators who discuss spirituality and growth and self-improvement, and who do so in a wonderfully encouraging way. But to focus only on ourselves is to miss the point. It is in this that Jesus matters. Without this constant source of love, and yes, confession of my own frailties and weaknesses, my growth will inevitably become ego-centric. And to grow inward is not to grow at all. Learning to bow my head, and look at the dirt in my own life, and ask God to forgive me (knowing that He does) gives me not only the confidence, but the humility to become the person He longs for me to be.
Spring without a new set of challenges merely indicates a change in the season. But if you're willing, you can make this spring the stepping stone for a whole new life. My prayer is that you'll step out in both confidence and humility towards that which God has for you, and along the way, enjoy the weather.
Authour's Note: I just wanted to say thank you for making this past month the most successful in the short 14 month history of this website. I am humbled by your readership, and want you to know how much you give me in return. Thanks so much everyone. Blessings....