On New Year’s Day, Aaron and I moved into a beautiful, century-old home near downtown Nashville that was the answer to several prayers and a lot of noise complaints. Apparently, hosting large monthly gatherings in a tiny condo is not the best way to make friends with the neighbors. The day we moved was one of the coldest days on record here. Six degrees, to be exact. It felt like the tundra every time we took a load out to the moving truck. For one of my plants, George, it was the worst day of his little floral life. (Yes, I name my plants). In-between homes, he got a bit too cold for his own good.
Over the course of the year I’d had George, he’d grown almost a foot and become a huge indoor plant. I was honestly really proud of him, and he was the first plant that I successfully kept alive. The morning after the move, though, he lost literally dozens of leaves until my formerly massive plant shriveled, holding on by 4 or 5 little stalks. The cold almost killed him, and I was devastated. Honestly, I was really surprised at how sad the whole situation made me. I never expected to pray over a house plant… and if you’re laughing at me right now, I totally understand.
For the last month, it’s looked like he was dying. I’ve been waiting to see when I should make the call to just throw him out, inspecting him each day to see if he’ll make it. That waiting was the worst part. This morning, something changed. I looked down and saw 3 new leaves shooting up. He’s going to make it, and new things are growing. It struck me that there was a God-lesson in the story of my plant.
I realized that the in-between is the hardest part of life. Certainly, it’s hard to let seasons, relationships, or expectations in your life die, and it’s a little terrifying to let new things grow. But the most painful times are those in-between moments, where something has died and you can’t imagine new life forming. Where you walk by the what-used-to-be every day, not seeing any growth. I think those are the times that “hope deferred makes the heart grow sick” (Proverbs 13:12).
Today, I want to tell you that it’s ok to be a little heartsick if you’re not seeing what’s going to grow next in your life. It’s ok to grieve what was. It’s not “faith” to pretend that pain isn’t real, and it’s not bad Christianity to question what’s next. It’s hard to keep going in between what was and what will be. When you are stuck in that in-between, you don’t have to pretend that everything is alright. Over and over, the Bible tells us that God draws near to the brokenhearted. He sees you when you’re hurting, and when things in your life have died. He senses when you are unsure of the future. He’s not telling you to get over it already. He’s coming to your side.
New things are coming. That’s a promise God makes us. But if you don’t see them today, you don’t have to pretend that you’re fine. I just want to remind you that hope and pain aren’t mutually exclusive. If everything was perfect, you’d have nothing to hope for. You can hurt and hope at the same time. You can be brokenhearted and close to God at the same time. You can be full of pain and full of faith at the same time. You can find God in the in-between season.
God isn’t just in the mountain or in the valley. He’s in the climbing uphill too.
God knows you’ll get heartsick, tired, confused, and doubtful sometimes. He’s ready for it. The question is: are you ready to invite him into these in-between places? The ones where you don’t have answers, and sometimes don’t even have words? There’s nothing you’re feeling that Jesus hasn’t experienced already. So let him dwell with you in the awkward season where something is dead and there’s nothing on the horizon. Your uncertainty doesn’t make him any less certain that he loves you. And if you take anything from this today, I hope you walk away with the knowledge that he loves you in the in-between.