Staring into the Long Winter

Christmas is over. The New Year has come and begun. The holidays daze is done and I’m left in the wake looking ahead at winter.

The decorations are packed back up and put away- all that is except the stray ornament that managed to hide in the hours of clean up and is now hanging out solo waiting to be worth the walk into the basement.

I’m waiting. Waiting for a call, waiting for big news, waiting for a life-altering outcome. I don’t know how long I’ll be waiting… hours, months? And this all feels familiar, too familiar. Waiting for results, waiting for news, waiting to pass the news along.

Waiting, so many times, to know, are we growing our family or not? Time and time again, not. Not.

Today I wait for a lawyer’s call. To find out- are we? Are we not?

Or do we keep waiting?

The waiting. Isn’t this a suffering in itself?

I stand at the precipice between life or loss, and how can I steady my breath in the tension of the timeline, when two polar opposites sit in front of my future and I have no idea- will this be gift or gutting?

I packed away Christmas decor and felt a heaviness grow until it sank me, and I sat on the couch and started sobbing. And I didn’t even know why, why this heaviness, why this now.

And I realized it and thought it to myself: “You haven’t grieved for a while.”

You haven’t grieved for a while, haven’t made space for sadness for a while, haven’t remembered and reflected.

I’ve been doing “better” and then the holidays, but now the quiet and the “over”. And it’s January, the month when we lost our first baby, and this is about to be “the season”. The season of hard and the season of loss.

It’s winter.

It’s winter outside, and this is when it begins to be winter in my life, but I wonder, could this winter be different? Could this winter be spring?

I’m waiting, waiting for that call, and waiting to tell the news, and it’s hard to hope for different.

I can see God’s hand written all over our foster journey so far, I know it’s His hand in it, but I wonder, is that hand going to be the one that gives or takes away?

We know His does both. And we know it’s always for a good, so in a way it’s always giving. But we also know He simultaneously takes and we flinch and ache and groan. And wait.

It’s cold out and snowy, and the days are so painfully short. I miss the warm sunlight and green grass and I know I’m not alone in the seasonal sadness.

How do we look ahead to so many months of winter and not despair?

I sit on the couch with Christmas decoration boxes around me, and I cry, I let myself cry hard, I let myself grieve and feel and ache. I miss the babies we lost, and I don’t know why but sometimes the craving to smell them and snuggle them and feel them is so strong it crushes me. I sob and I want desperately to run my fingers through their hair and kiss their sweet cheeks and I look at our foster baby, and I wonder, will I have to miss her too?

How do we look ahead to winter and not despair, and keep waiting and keep hoping?

I picture spring, I imagine it in my mind vividly. I see tiny fresh green shoots growing out of the ground and I feel the warming up wind, and hear birds and see light green buds in trees. Isn’t spring stunning?

But how do we have such glory of freshness and newness and revival without the death, the grey, the cold of winter?

I think to myself that this helps hope- to bear the long winter by waiting for spring, believing that those green shoots and warmer wind and flower blossoms will come. I can wait when I know spring will come.

I surprise myself by quickly realizing this is not enough. I can’t just make it through winter by waiting for spring; because sometimes you don’t know spring is coming and sometimes the hope of spring doesn’t heal the now.

I need redemption for winter.

I need winter to be redeemed and be beautiful in its own way. I need it not to be wasted, to have purpose and a point, in itself. Without spring. Without the bow-tie.

And isn’t this the business of God? Isn’t this exactly what He does? He doesn’t just make us wait for the better, He makes the bad good and the mess have meaning and the waiting, the waiting is never wasted.

It can be daunting, looking ahead into bleak, frigid, lifeless seasons. To envision the future and see no color and no growth and only biting, dry cold.

But the walk of faith refuses to believe reality is so, refuses to believe there’s not growth here too, even though I can’t see the green shoots or touch the fresh buds or smell the flowers in the air. The walk of faith says even though the cold winds bite the Lion of Judah roars louder. And good will come of this and good is here too.

Good is here too.

Because the God of all seasons redeems even the severest of winters.

The lawyer messages.

Court is reset.

Keep waiting.

Keep waiting, and believing Isaiah 40:31 is true, and wait for the outcome and wait for the renewed strength and wait for spring. And look around.

Winter’s redemption is at hand.

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