Hope for the Heavy Seasons

When we adopted Lilly—14 years ago last week—she was 9 months old and weighed about 17 pounds.

lois-randy-lilly-chinaThat might not seem like much, but she was a chunk of a little girl—so much so that people we met in elevators and restaurants in China often mistook her for a 2-year-old.

I had worked on my cardiovascular fitness in the months leading up to our adoption trip, and my regular runs on the treadmill prepared me to traverse the Great Wall with relative ease. My upper body strength, however, was a different story entirely.

My arms and back were so weak that I could hold Lilly for only a few minutes at a time before passing her off to Randy. As a result, when we were out and about in China, she spent most of her time chewing on the strap of the Snugli that held her close to his chest.

Amid the excitement and stress of becoming parents halfway across the globe, I sometimes worried about my ability to care for her when we returned home.

What am I going to do when Randy goes back to work and I have to take Lilly somewhere, I asked myself. How am I going to carry her around when I can hardly hold her now?

What happened, of course, was that the more I carried her, the stronger I got. And as she grew, so did my strength.

lois-molly-chinaThree years later, we returned to China to adopt Molly. Though older than Lilly had been by four months, she also weighed 17 pounds. But because we were used to picking up 4-year-old Lilly, who was small by American standards but made up of solid muscle, little Molly seemed as light as a feather.

I’ve been thinking about this lately as I navigate circumstances in my life that are requiring a bit more emotional and mental energy than usual. When I was a new mom, 17 pounds was almost more than I could manage, while carrying the same weight three years later—in the same unfamiliar setting, no less—was pretty easy.

In the same way, it occurs to me that different seasons of life weigh differently than others. Some are heavier, some are lighter. That’s just the way it is.

It might be that the difference lies in the actual weight, or burden, that we’re carrying. A 100-pound load is tougher to lug around than one that weighs 25 pounds, after all. It doesn’t matter if the burden is internal or caused by situations outside our control—heavy is heavy, regardless of the source.

Our preparedness or current state of mind also plays a role. When we adopted Molly, she seemed light to me, even though she weighed exactly the same as Lilly when we got her. But I was different. I was stronger, a bit more experienced and confident in my ability to be her mama. It was just easier.

Sometimes, it’s the gravity of the season we’re in that can make it seem like we are walking around with a ton of bricks on our chest. Certain phases in our live simply hold more significance than others—there’s more at stake and more rides on the outcome.

External circumstances affect the weight of a season too. A level path doesn’t require as much energy as a steep incline, and it’s much easier to carry that 100-pound burden when it’s 50 degrees outside than it is when the thermometer reaches 95 in the shade. In the same way, what’s going on around us can sometimes make what’s happening within us all the more difficult.

My reality right now, and probably yours too, is this: I’m dealing with different seasons of life simultaneously.

Some are heavy; others are light. When the weight of a heavy piece overwhelms me, I’m often at a loss for what to do. I want an answer, a solution, a three-step plan for how to make the burden lighter—or better yet, disappear.

But life doesn’t work like that. There are no bows, no pat answers, no quick fixes. As helpful as they can be, there are no Bible studies or books that can fast-forward us through the weightier times.

But there is truth. There are promises to cling to, if we chose to do so.

Scripture encourages us to cast our every care on the same sovereign God who hung the stars in the sky and orchestrates the four seasons. Nothing is too big or too small for His loving attention.

When we walk through the fire, the desert, the deep waters, the rocky mountains—He is with us.

No matter the season, He knows what we need. He knows what our loved ones need. And He will provide exactly that.

Wisdom for the wondering. Love for the lonely. Comfort for the grieving. Water for the thirsty. Boldness for the timid. Peace for the anxious. Rest for the weary.

And, yes, strength for the weak.

Lois Flowers

P.S. Linking up this week with Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith, Crystal Storms at Intentional Tuesday, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory, Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart, Lyli Dunbar at ThoughtProvokingThursday, Crystal Twaddell at FreshMarketFriday and Dawn Klinge at Grace & Truth.

25 Responses to Hope for the Heavy Seasons

  1. Such encouragment Lois! I love how if we yield and trust during the difficult season, we are so much stronger for the next time. This is a good reminder!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      So true, Crystal. I also think that’s why it’s so important to keep track of God’s workings in our lives–through journaling, blogging, writing things on random pieces of paper (yep, that’s me), 1000 gifts lists, whatever. It gives us our own personal record of God’s faithfulness to return to over and over when times get hard. Thanks for your encouragement here, my friend.

  2. Love the honest and open take on life and the heavy times it sometimes brings. I wrote a series that discussed the seasons of life. Would love your thoughts on it.

  3. Heather M. says:

    It’s taken me a while to realize there will always be highs and lows- mountains and valleys- or heavy and light seasons as you described them. And the more we lean on Jesus, the easier they get to navigate over time. How precious to be able to look back on both your daughter’s journey’s home and see how God had increased your strength along the way. Reminds me of Isaiah 40:31 🙂

    • Lois Flowers says:

      It is precious, Heather. I’m so grateful for the path we have taken with our family. And I think you’re right … the navigation does get easier over time when Jesus is our primary support. I’m thankful for that too! 🙂

  4. Julie says:

    I loved the story of your girls and the link to the heavy seasons.
    So true!
    I’m glad that God infuses us with strength regardless of the weight of the season. His strength is available whenever we ask for it!
    Great post!
    #Grace&Truth neighbor,

  5. Lisa notes says:

    What a wonderful analogy, Lois. Our strength grows to meet the need. God makes sure of it. Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures of you with your sweet babies!

  6. Lois,
    These photos of you and your sweet girls are simply beautiful! I loved hearing your story about them too. Your words strike a chord deep in my heart that God matures us, works with us and walks with us, through every season of our lives. What a comforting picture! This post is gorgeously written!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Valerie. I don’t think I will ever get over God’s design of our family … His faithfulness truly is great. 🙂 And yes, that maturing work never stops, does it? It’s not always fun, but I guess it’s a good sign that God isn’t finished with us yet!

  7. Lesley says:

    I love the story and photos of your girls and the link you make. So true that burdens can seem heavier or lighter depending on circumstances and the season we are in, but it’s encouraging to remember that we can go to God and receive strength from his unlimited supply to help us through.

  8. Lois, beautiful post. And yes, it does seem like we’re often living in simultaneous seasons. It’s rarely easy to do this, but God is always, ALWAYS with us. This is so comforting. When my internals are focused on Jesus, that makes it a little easier to deal with the externals.

    And, though I often wish I could fast-forward through the hard times, I know God uses those to work in me. To conform me into the image of Jesus, and to strengthen me. I’m so thankful God knows what we need in each season and offers it to us.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Jeanne, I love how you put this: “When my internals are focused on Jesus, that makes it a little easier to deal with the externals.” So true! I know what you mean about how God uses those hard seasons to mold us and strengthen us … and what a joy it is to finally be able to look back (I have a hard time doing this in the middle of it) and say, “Yes, I can see now how that helped me and I’m thankful that it happened that way.” 🙂

  9. He is with us. It’s such a simple but HUGE promise. I think those simultaneous seasons are such evidence of God’s grace. We may be carrying heavy burdens, but in other areas we experience lightness and pure joy. He is a God of balance and He knows what we can bear. Your words today are thought provoking, friend – and the pictures so sweet!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Tiffany, when the seasons get heavy, I find myself moving toward the simple truths more and more. Maybe it’s because I don’t have the energy for more complicated thoughts, and God knows what will speak to my heart. I love your perspective here, my friend!

  10. Trudy says:

    I love these photos and your analogy, Lois. It’s so true that there are no quick fixes through Bible studies or books. I’ve been there seeking for it only to feel more empty. Only God’s truth and His promises can get us through. It’s so comforting that “Nothing is too big or too small for His loving attention.” Thank you for this blessed hope! Hugs!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thank you, Trudy. We took more than 20 rolls of film on our trip to get Lilly and that picture of the three of us is one of my absolute favorites. And little Molly was so precious … looking at her baby pictures makes me melt every time, even now! About God being interested in everything we bring Him … I know some people think some things are too small to bother Him with, but I take it seriously when we’re told to cast ALL our cares on Him! Some of my cares are pretty small, but it’s a comfort to know I don’t have to carry them myself. Have a beautiful week, my friend!

  11. Thanks for this sweet adoption story rolled into a life lesson. I was just sharing with our Sunday School kids a couple of days ago that the small lessons in life prepare us for the big decisions we have to make. Sounds as if our “faith muscles” can be developed just as our physical bodies can.

  12. Saving and sharing and rereading this post. So sweet to get a peek into your story, Lois! Love the pictures- what sweet girls : ) The description of heavy and light burdens and gravity and the temperature and how it all factors in is so vivid in my mind now. Giving me things to think about and joy in praising the Lord this morning for who He is! Thank you!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I guess I did cram an awful lot into one blog post, didn’t I? I’m glad it all made sense to you, Bethany! Thank you for your kind words … they brought a smile to my face this morning!

  13. I love the analogy! My middle child entered this world over TEN pounds. I remember how hard it was to hold her for long periods of time. I didn’t have the space to work my way up from a seven or eight-pound baby. God is gracious to lead us through light trials to prepare us for the heavy lifting in the harder seasons of life. Blessings from the #RaRaLinkup!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Ten pounds … wow, Kelly! Those extra two or three pounds make a huge difference, don’t they? Yes, God is gracious to lead us, through light and heavy. I’m so thankful for that!

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