What Season is Your Heart in Today?

Heart season by Holley Gerth

Spring is just coming fully to the trees behind my house. Branches are becoming homes. I watch squirrels and birds build nests with mouths full of leaves and perhaps hearts full of dreams.

We all welcome spring with open arms–it’s a time of hope and joy after a long, dark winter. A reprieve before the stretched-out, hot summer. If we could, many of us would choose spring outside all year long. 

But that’s not how the seasons work. The trees need time to let go in the fall. They need time to be quiet and grow deeper roots in winter. They need the intense sunshine of summer. All are part of the rhythm that keeps them living and growing.

I tend to always want it to be spring inside too. I love the dreaming and the doing, the wildflower adventures. I resist the stillness and the in-between seasons. But lately God is whispering to me that it can’t always be spring. All of the seasons have their place and purpose. All have gifts to offer. All are necessary.

Especially when I find myself in winter, I wonder if I’m as valuable to God. What am I giving? What am I producing? I try to manufacture an early spring out of to-do-lists and projects and going-here-and-there.

But God doesn’t ask that of me. He sees what I can’t in winter–the growth going on beneath the surface. The silence. The preparing. The drawing in of what my heart needs so that when spring comes I will be able to grow, to give, to bear fruit again.

What season are you in today? 

If you’re in fall…let go.

If you’re in winter…rest.

If you’re in spring…grow.

If you’re in summer…take care of yourself so you don’t burn out.

“For everything there is a season. Eccl. 3:1″

The seasons of our hearts may change but this always stays the same: God loves us. He knows our circumstances. He understands our needs. He’s with us and caring for us…every day of our lives. And spring will come again.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

Friend, You Can Rest

Rest by Holley Gerth

Dear You,

It’s okay to rest. It’s even more than okay—it’s essential. Even when it’s the hardest choice you can make. I know you can feel as if there is so much to do, and a moment of quiet can feel like something wrongfully stolen. There’s so much depending on you. How can rest be anything but selfish?

Yet rest is exactly what enables you to love well for a lifetime. I struggled with this for years until a friend gently laid her hand on my heart and whispered, “If you never get refilled, how will you be able to pour out?” You are not infinite. You are human. You have limits. Acknowledging that is not selfish; it’s worship. Rest says to God and to our wild world, “I know I’m not in charge. And I trust the One who is.”

Rest comes in many different forms. It can be quick snooze on the couch or a full night of sleep. It can be reading, laughing, or playing. It can be an attitude of your heart that chooses not to strive and worry even when you’re in the middle of a busy season. In all of that, you can honor God.

God doesn’t need you to complete your to-do list. He created the world in seven days simply by speaking. He doesn’t have any trouble getting things accomplished—with or without us. But what he has chosen for you and only you to be able to do is this: to love him, those around you, and yourself. Part of loving well is resting well.

We can find ourselves going at a frantic pace and never stop to ask, “What is driving me?” Often it’s fear, and that is not what God has for us. Instead of being driven by fear, he invites us to be led by love.

So pause, take a deep breath or even a nap if you dare, and in doing so show the world that you serve One who is kind and loving to those who belong to him. Because he lets them rest. He invites them to peace. He takes their to-do list and trades it for a to-receive list that leads to joy.

You have permission to rest today.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

* inspired by Gen. 2:2; Isa. 40:11; Phil. 4:6–7 and adapted from If We Could Have Coffee… {ebook, on sale now for $1.99}

p.s. I’m supposed to be at the Winsome retreat right now and instead I’m home with a sinus infection and bronchitis {although I’ll still be there by exclusive video} so I’m living this message I wrote about rest months ago. Big thanks to Kim Hyland and Nasreen Fynewever for their grace, help and friendship this week. I’d love for you to stop by both their sites–you’ll love these ladies. I sure do.

When Life Makes You Want to File a Complaint

Filing Your Complaint by Holley Gerth

{this image and all the ones I create are free for you to use and share}

In small and big ways life is not as it should be—and you want to file a complaint. Yet instantly you think, “I’m not allowed to complain. I must be happy and thankful all the time.” That’s the topic that came up in a conversation last week. We talked about whether or not it’s okay to express negative emotions or opinions. And if it is, then what’s the way God desires for us to do so?

I went home with this topic still on my mind and decided to do some digging to see if I could find an answer. Here’s what I discovered…

First, the word “complain” is hardly used in Scripture (NIV).  And when it is, it’s most often a noun (complaint) not a verb. The phrase “complaining” doesn’t appear at all. Anywhere. Weird, huh?

Like I mentioned above, the word “complaint” is used a few times so let’s look at those together. In one, God says this: “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites” (Num. 14:27). From that verse, you might conclude complaining is never allowed. But fast forward to Psalms and we hear David, a man after God’s own heart, say this:

I pour out before him (God) my complaint;
    before him I tell my trouble.
Ps. 142:2

Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint. Ps. 64:1

When you look at those verses and then back at the one from Numbers, it appears that God is saying, “Even after I heard the complaints of the Israelites they still grumbled against me.” Having a complaint is not the issue. It’s the attitude and expectations behind it. Even after seeing God do numerous miracles and meet their needs again and again, the people of Israel were still accusing him of not being good or helping them. In contrast, David takes his complaint to God with an attitude of trust and belief.

The dictionary has several definitions “complaint” but they all really come down to this: a statement that things are not as we would like for them to be.

We live in a fallen, broken world. We are fallen, broken people. We are going to have complaints. There’s simply no way around it. And I believe God understands that and invites us to come to him in those moments. It’s what we do with those complaints that make the difference.

In Scripture, there are two ways we can file a complaint: grumbling and lamenting. Both are words we don’t use much in our culture anymore. Instead we lump both together under complaining and that seems to lead to a lot of confusion so let’s take a closer look at them.

 

Grumbling

Lamenting

Accusation against God’s Character and Goodness

Affirmation of Who God Is—No Matter What

Expressing a Demand

Expressing a Desire

Focused on What We Want

Focused on What God Wills

Leads to Discouragement and Fear

Leads to Healing and Courage

Causes Bitterness

Helps Us Get to Breakthroughs

Isolates Us from God and Others

Draws Us Close to God and Others

Displeases God

Honors God

My husband and I recently tried to travel by plane for a speaking engagement. Our flight was delayed and then cancelled. As we waited in line to find out what the airline could do, we overheard a variety of conversations. Many were along the lines of, “My day is completely wrecked. Everything bad always happens to me. These people are idiots. I can’t believe this %$#^% airline.”

One woman stood behind us with a scarf on her head. She clearly had cancer and she simply said, “I wish this hadn’t happened today. I’m tired and frustrated. I want to get where I need to go. The airline will work it out somehow.” Same situation. Very different responses. 

We will have “complaints” in our lives. That simply means there will be times when things are not as we would like for them to be and that’s unavoidable. What is avoidable is responding to those complaints with grumbling.

God wants us to be open with all of our emotions—hurt, anger, disappointment and whatever we may feel. He also wants us to be honest about our desires. It’s the attitude behind how we express our emotions and desires that matters most to him. He warns us against grumbling but he invites us to lament.

When I worked as a counselor, I saw so many Christians who tried to hide their negative feelings because they were afraid of “complaining.” And it never worked out well. God doesn’t want you to ignore or deny what’s hurting you or making you angry.

You are allowed to file complaints in life. God just asks you to do so in a way that honors him, leads to healing in your heart and helps others too. Be open with God. Be honest. Be real about where you are. Tell him what’s in your heart. He’s listening and he will hear you.

File your complaints. Bring them before God and give them to him. You don’t have to hold anything back from the God who promises to hold you through every experience and emotion you have in this life.

XOXO

Holley Gerth