When spring stays

It snowed today. We’ve had such a mild winter that we thought we might be in the clear after those last few inches in February. Then it warmed up and the sun came out and melted the huge piles of gray slush in the parking lots, so we really thought it was gone.

Winter’s still hanging on for dear life. It’s singing its sad, desperate ballads about unrequited love, and we are thrusting it away with angry shovels that we thought we could put away for good a month ago.

Let me just say, the shovels are never put far away in Minnesota.

How do you know when it’s spring? When it comes and stays? Or could it really be spring now, only winter is just paying a short visit but will be leaving soon (if only we could boot it out the door).

That’s something I’m wondering. The arbitrary season change dates never seem to mark the real event of any new season, so I don’t know when to call it spring.

For longer than we’ve had winter weather in Minnesota (much longer, if anything could be longer than Minnesota winters) I’ve been on a journey of forgiveness, and I say journey because some days it still snows anger or frustration and I have to get out the shovel and figure out what’s underneath that.

How do you now when you’ve forgiven someone? Is it when you speak of them and realize you feel whole and holy when you do? Is it when you can look forward to a future where they are present? I’m not sure. There are some markers on the path, like the first time I realized I needed to forgive and each subsequent time after that when I’ve felt prodded to continue forgiving.

How do you know when you’re in the free and clear? I imagine it looks different in every situation. Each season and type of hurt requires different healing and reconciliation, so perhaps there are no indicators across all scenarios.

But I do think of those days when I really know winter has gone, when the ground is dry and feels warmer and the sun shines and there’s a breeze instead of a wind. And I imagine there are similar days when you’ve forgiven someone.

I’m looking for warmth in a couple ways. Come soon, spring, and stay.


No band-aids.

I’ve been trying to clean out a wound for a while now, but – like many of  my cleaning projects – it often sits untouched in between efforts to clean it.  It’s a deep wound, inflicted by ones who don’t see their actions as weapons and haven’t changed their behavior much.  But when I see what oozes out of that nasty thing, I can’t take it.

It’s ugly.  I think it bled at one point, but now it’s just infected.  Bitterness and anger is what usually comes out.  It needs holy hydrogen peroxide, and Jesus is faithful to provide that, even when I don’t ask.  He was the catalyst, the one who pointed out the wound and started the healing.

How do you heal something like that?  It’s not a quick fix.  And you really can’t bandage it, either.  That inhibits healing, though it hides the wound.  Band-aids have covered it up for long enough.  No, now it needs cleaning, consistent maintenance. I have a daily choice to forgive and let go.

Who was it who said that nothing worth doing is easy?  Probably someone I’d like to meet.  The only easy things that are worth doing that I can think of are recipes and smiles.

It’s worthwhile, even though I’m not the most adept at cleaning (particularly at cleaning wounds or anything involving blood or pus).  I have to remind myself of that sometimes, but it’s worth it.  Restoration always is.

Beautiful exchange.

I walked up to the divine customer service counter, sure that my exchange wouldn’t go through.  The items I held had lost their tags long ago, were far past the typical 90-day return policy cutoff, and they had signs of use.

I held them anyways, waiting my turn in line.  The best I could hope for was getting rid of these.  I doubt they’re worth any store credit, much less enough credit to get the things I want.

Let’s see here; I’ve got a garment of Anger, one of Bitterness, another of Pride.  I’m wearing Anxiety (maybe I should have changed my clothes before I got here… how embarrassing).

And the things I want?  Holiness, Forgiveness, Grace, Mercy, Humility, Peace…  I would ask for more, but I think there might be a direct exchange program.  I probably could give them my Fear and Shame, too.

As I should have expected, when my turn came (which was pretty instant), I didn’t even have to ask.  Jesus, the ultimate service personnel, simply looks at me with compassion and love.  I look down and realize that I’m not longer holding my long-expired, rags of attire.  Instead, I’m clothed in all the things I wanted and more.  Hey, that’s long-suffering – I didn’t even know I needed that!

He clothes me in his righteousness and reminds me to come back all the time – or maybe just stick around.

It’s a beautiful exchange.

That filthy, scabby feeling.

I need to take showers more often.

And I mean that in an entirely figurative sense. Totally figurative. You don’t have to worry about me keeping up with my personal hygiene – I’ve got that covered.

No, in the figurative sense, I need to take baths, shower, wash up more often.

This is going to be another one of those maybe I’m the only one, but this is how I feel scenarios. So, no offense taken if you don’t follow my thoughts or if the following does not describe you. I’m pretty sure that normal doesn’t describe me anyways. (But does it really describe anyone? And would I want it to describe me? Getting off track here…)

I have many a hangup. I have sins that follow me around. Or maybe I push them around. I think I might have a wagon that I don’t always dump out. I cart my sins around. They waft a layer of sooty dirt on to my soul, onto my attitude and my actions while I carry them. It colors how I act. I feel dirty. And I don’t like it.  Who would?

Still, in spite of this dirty, nasty feeling, some days I don’t empty my wagon before my Lord and ask for a new, clean wagon in which to carry beautiful things like the fruits of the Spirit and such. (It’d be like a divine farmer’s market…  can I get an amen?)

No, sometimes I feel as though I have to hang on to my stinky, smelly, dirty wagon and keep pushing it around. As though it is penance for having them, I have to continue to hold them. I have to let them bring me down because I picked them up.

Have you ever heard a more twisted thought process?

Who’s to say that because I just snapped at someone I can’t ask for forgiveness from them (and Jesus) and finish the conversation in a civil or maybe even friendly fashion? My God certainly doesn’t say that.

Who’s to say that just because I’ve been crabby towards my family this weekend at times, that I have to continue? Do I think I have some sort of bad reputation to keep up? 

I need renewal, a washing, a peeling off of the scabs of sin (even though I NEVER pick off real scabs… Nasty). Just like that downpour we had tonight. I got home from church and just stood in the rain, thinking about how good it felt to be rained on. I told myself that it was cleansing rain. That it was washing away my impatience, my irritations, my lack of graciousness, my stress, my anxieties, and my unbelief. Jesus who washes that away, and the picture of rain is such a powerful one for me. Because it is a catalyst for new life. And THAT is what I want to tote around.

Cleanliness. Newness. Life.

I want to carry that around and accept the invitation to offer Jesus my yucky wagon every day, every hour, whenever it gets defiled. I’m so glad that this Christian life is a process, a journey, and not a destination. If it was a destination, I’d be hopeless, because I’m certainly not there.

Jesus, bring the rain. Bring the renewal.