Healing and Growth
There’s a grand tulip poplar in our neighbor's back yard. She puts on a fabulous show every autumn as her pointed leaves twirl and dance as they fall to the ground.
Sometimes I wonder about the things she’s seen and how many kids have frolicked in her brightly colored leaves year after year. How many babies have come home from the hospital under her watch and how many teens have been sent off to college?
In the not too distant future our own little boy will be raking up a pile of her leaves to jump in and play as the months turn cooler, hopefully avoiding any “presents” from our dog.
Fall always seems nostalgic to me even as we have new life in our home for the first time. Something about regular work and school rhythms, predictability, and cooler weather do my human heart good. This year I’ve felt permission to stay home more often in the evenings and welcome more people over. Warm scents coming from my oven remind me of our own childhood and the gift of people gathered in a kitchen.
Even though our fast paced society speeds up in the months following the start of the school year, it’s as if something deep in our souls is beckoning us to draw back and slow down. Not too many generations past, in a farming culture, the fall was a time for harvest and preparation for winter. They had the backbreaking work of summer finally behind them and more family time ahead. Images of dried hay and stove brewed coffee swim in my head even though that’s never been my life. But maybe that’s still in our bones somewhere and that’s why fall creates a longing in our hearts. The desire to sit around the table reveling in the work of our hands and the ability to provide for our families I’m sure brings a satisfaction unlike most of our desk jobs today.
Seasons of growth and seasons of rest are innately built into the rhythms of creation.
Last week I had my 6 week follow up appointment after birthing my son. After 42 weeks of growth and 17 hours of labor he was finally in my arms. After the hardest physical feat I’ve ever accomplished, I was sent home to recover and take care of a brand new human. What a miraculous and overwhelming endeavor.
I went in for my appointment two days early because I had a few questions on the healing process and had some things I wasn’t sure about. I was told, “give it another week, but other than that you’re cleared to go back to normal activities.” No recovery exercises, no suggestions on nutrition, nothing to aid in restoring the body that was stretched physically and mentally. Just a check off a list that I was healed and good to go.
I didn’t give it much thought during the appointment but as the day wore on and my baby was more fussy it started to bother me. The expectation of being back to normal so soon felt almost offensive.
Then in the middle of the night the whispers of the enemy were loud and strong, “she said you’re fine. You should be back to working now.” “You don’t need to nap anymore, she said NORMAL activities.” “Why do you think you still need help from other people, you should be able to handle your own household by now.” The lies and the accusassions assaulted me as I nursed my baby in the still hours of the night.
Tears welled up in my eyes as I handed my baby to my husband to change his diaper and went to the bathroom. When I came back, Ryan held me close and told me everything would be ok. But the accusations still felt loud. I asked the Lord for his wisdom because I felt so vulnerable and broken. What did HE have to say about my healing?
And he reminded me of the trees.
I just started listening to The Bible Project podcast’s series on trees that week. The focus is on how trees and humans have so many connections throughout scripture.
Holy Spirit prodded my heart, “you are like a tree,” he reminded me.
Immediately the picture of our neighbor’s tulip poplar sprung to mind. I’ve enjoyed watching the leaves cascade down in the breeze while sitting on my deck, nursing my baby. She is currently entering a season of rest and drawing her strength within. Each leaf she lets go of will take 5-6 months before it starts to bud and grow again.
Then it hit me, 5-6 months! If all of creation needs more than 6 weeks to rest and recover before returning to a season of flourishing and growth, maybe I do too.
That realization brought more relief than I anticipated. Only the Father can silence the lies of the enemy so quickly. There is purpose in the rhythms of creation and in the rhythms of bringing life into the world. God created the world then he dwelled in his creation, he rested with his people.
Maybe this season is about dwelling with the life created from my flesh and resting as I draw my strength inward towards my home.
I desire connection, community, and people around my table. But if it also means days of napping at 9:00am and doing nothing else but hold my baby close in order to balance out those days, then let it be so.
Today I’m giving my post partum self more grace. Grace to not fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes. To not have to accomplish a huge check list. To not have to be put together emotionally. Today I’m allowing myself the space to sit in my recliner while my 6 week old baby sleeps on my shoulder and not feel the need to put him down so I can be productive. Tomorrow I might choose differently, but today this is where I am and what I need.
It takes creation 6 months, not 6 weeks. It’s ok to not be completely healed by this point, there is purpose in the seasons.
No matter where you are on your journey of becoming, may the Lord give you eyes to see yourself through His eyes and on His schedule today.