The winter months are slowly fading into longer, spring-like days. Each morning which warms me with welcoming sunshine streaming through our lounge window gives me hope. A season of life and growth in nature is beginning, but the death of winter has had to come first. Leaves wither and fall, plants are stripped back, branches removed whilst the snow can often cover any sign of growth. This has not only happened in the seasons, but in my life personally.
For us everything was stripped away when we moved. All the routine, familiarity and friendships which had sustained us during weeks of Josh working away were gone. We were in a village I had never visited before, in a house I had never seen, just the four of us knowing no one else. That time of huge transition for us as a family- from university students in a friendly city, surrounded by university and church friends to being two young graduates, with a family- working at the other end of the country and being a stay at home mummy full time again has tested and grown me. I knew I needed to be intentional about seeking out toddler groups and friends in a new place. Moving in the holidays meant there was no routine to slot into- instead we visited the library, the bakers, made friends in the park and explored our locality.
Cutting everything down, stripping back the branches and pruning the ends so that we had just ourselves in a new home with only God to sustain us forced a lot of growth. Where before I may have been tempted to fall back on our routine, or the comfort of our home, or our friends and family for support in a testing new time, I had a new life to build in a new place. I had to lean on God for my strength and courage in new situations. Everything had changed, our days stretched long and empty before us, full of potential for richness or for frustration and fear. Cutting everything dramatically back was hard, and scary. I felt completely disorientated the first day or two, as I didn’t even know the way to the shop. We had driven into our new village in the dark, slept in a house I hadn’t seen, and I felt somewhat amputated from everything that was familiar. Whilst our house was full of familiar possessions which I had spent weeks packing up, everything was topsy turvy and in the wrong place, and it would be a while before we got our home set up to look more familiar. Everything was different except for the people we did life with- a fiesty toddler and a baby boy. I quickly charged into sorting through the boxes in every spare moment, and had researched groups and places we could visit. I had the luxury and the heavy responsibility of deciding how we spent our days, every day- whether we would choose to busy ourselves with activities out of the house, be at home a lot, reach out to new friends or cocoon ourselves.
There came with that responsibility a lot of doubt on my part- I always doubted that we were making the right decision, the best possible decision of how to spend our time. For a while I felt that whatever decision I made wasn’t the right one, and we struggled with sleep issues with both little ones. We fairly quickly made friends thanks to church, park visits and toddler groups, but in the quiet moments at home when we had a free day, I was worried that I couldn’t decide what was best for us to do each day.
I changed my blog name shortly after the move. It wasn’t about reinventing my blog, or myself, somehow, but rather trying to be true to myself, and the me God had created. I had struggled to find time or words to write before and during the move- but a commitment to write 31 days about what I was learning had me using words daily, describing the journey of being intentional that I was embarking on. I think in words, so many words, and the act of writing through what I was thinking and the ways we were being intentional in life sparked a lot of growth in me personally and the way we were a family, the way I mothered. One of the first things I wrote about was getting up earlier and spending time with God.
That was the beginning. I had tried, knowing for so long that I needed to put God first, needed to read my Bible, properly, and swinging in and out of it. Words saved me. Reading God’s word always makes a difference, even when we don’t know at the time but our minds collect information for the future. For me, a word person, writing or journalling has made the biggest difference. Making time in the morning to read and write and spend quality time with God. Intentionally putting God first has bred so much more intentionality in other areas of life. Not in a striving to do and be more- but to actually stop and think about what was and wasn’t important to our days, lives, time. All the other things I was able to write about- the small and obvious routines and important things which we put into place whilst building our life up from empty space, helped me to learn and be intentional about applying what I was writing.
That pruning season really allowed for growth. Now I have the joy of being able to look back and say ‘look how far we have come! Look how we have grown.’ There is this indescribable peace- this deep joy that comes from knowing that I am growing and walking with the Lord and being made better for it. There was, and still is, pain and frustration on the way- as having branches severed off is uncomfortable. I have lost my patience a lot, prayed in desperation a lot, felt paralysed by the weight of responsibility of all the decisions I have to make each and every day for my children. I don’t feel happy 100% of the time. But instead I have the knowledge that God had begun a good work in me and He will bring it to completion. This year I am thinking about thriving, growing and blossoming.
Have you been in a season of pruning? Let me reassure you that whilst it can be deeply uncomfortable, it will allow for growth in the future. I have walked through it and seen it happen. The winter months are cold and dark, but spring is nearly here.