Friday, June 24, 2011

My Season of Thistles

 If I were to describe the last few years of my life, it would be the photo that you see here, a thistle.  I know that sounds really strange, but let me explain.

There was a time when I thought I knew how my life would be.  I had found the man that I am madly in love with, we have a nice home, and I had the career of my dreams.  I was an elementary teacher, and to be perfectly honest, I loved every moment of it.  In a strange turn of events, I left teaching due to burnout and feeling hopeless that I could accomplish the things that I truly wanted.  With that, I encountered my first of what would turn out to be many thorns and snags along the path,

As time marched on, my husband lost his job, which was working for our former church. So not only did we face unemployment, we also faced searching for a new church home, and finding a new group of friends--since most of our friends centered around our former church. To top it all off, it happened the day after my grandmother passed away.   I began to experience a hurt deep in my soul that I had never really felt before, and in my eyes it was not fair.  I encountered a whole new batch of thorns and sticker bushes.

Three years later, I look back on that period in my life as my "Season of Thistles."  It was hard.  It was dry.  It was full of pitfalls, uncertainty and most of all hurt.  The funny thing is, God used that season to do some great things in my life.

First of all, He led us to the most amazing church.  Our church is outwardly motivated.  It seeks how it can help others--(and here is the best part)--with no strings attached.  It has been a place for us to grow and heal.  There, I have made some amazing friends who are some of the sweetest people that I know.  I am talking about friends that I can call and they will drop whatever they are doing to be there for us, to pray, whatever we need. We also discovered how deep friendships that we had at our former church were.  Those friends reached out to us, and encouraged us in more ways than they will ever know. My friends are literally a walking Bible, because they spread the love of Jesus everywhere they go.

Second, God used this time to make us stronger.  I can honestly say that through this I have a respect and love for my husband that I may have never known had we not walked through those dark days together. He handled himself with such character and he always does.  I am blessed to have a husband of that caliber to spend the rest of my life with.

He also grew my faith and made me step out of my comfort zone a few times. To be honest, this was needed way more than I will ever know.  I stepped out by taking on new jobs, and learning new things.  I even joined a few ministries that I would have never had the courage to do, without the time spent in my "Season of Thistles".

God also brought new careers and opportunities our way that we would not have been able to have taken advantage of if we had remained tied to the way we thought life was supposed to be.  I am learning that when God allows you to be tested, you never really lose just gain something much better than you ever had before.  You just have to be patient and look for the blessing.

When I took these photos tonight I realized that life is much like thistles.  It can be hard, and prickly, but there is beauty in it.  Just look at that gorgeous shade of pink in the flower of the thistle.  Being in the middle of all of the thorns, the flower has the sweetest fragrance.  When we allow God to shape us in our toughest trials, we will have a sweet and tender fragrance to the world, and others are drawn in.

And finally, when it is all said and done, We go to seed, and scatter out the softest and most delicate seeds to those all around, so that they can find Christ, find hope, or whatever they need because we endured, and are still standing ready to help others as they go through their "Season of Thistles".

Life seldom turns out like you plan.  When God is in the middle of those plans, it turns out even better.  If he can make beauty out of a sticker bush, then surely he can take our hurts, our trials, and our messes and make them into something that will ultimately bring us joy, and bring him glory.  If you are in the middle of a "Season of Thistles,"  just know that this too shall pass, and you will be all the better for enduring it.  Trust me, if God made it happen for me, he will do the same for you.

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