Growing up in Montana, ending summer was not so important, but living in Texas for the last 19 years, ending summer is akin to receiving a pardon from hell. If you've never moved from a state where the average high temperature in the summer is 85 with a low of 40 to a state with an average high of 102 with a low of 85 with equal parts humidity and scorch your feet, you may not be able to grasp how much I look forward to the end of summer.
God understands. He made sure that I was born on the first day of fall, and the only day of the year I look forward to more than the end of summer is my birthday. Amen and hallelujah.
Any of you who have been around my blog know that I struggle with health issues, the most prevalent of which is migraines. While I've been able to identify and control a lot of the triggers over the past decade, the one I can't do a thing about is the weather. Every time there is a shift in the barometric pressure, my head spirals out of control.
So as much as I hate Texas summers, they are actually the best time of year for me migraine-wise. No rain, no cold fronts, no migraines.
A few days ago, I woke up with not just a migraine, but with swollen joints aching so badly I wasn't sure I'd be able to get out of bed. This happens to me a couple times a year --a doctor thinks it might be the early onset of RA -- or it may just be my body telling me it doesn't want to get out of bed. Who knows? All I knew was it meant the weather was probably changing, and sure enough, rain and a cold front came in two days later, and as I type another cold front is on its way.
I should be ecstatic. After a week of temperatures over 100 in September (which is ridiculous even for Texas), the forecast showed a high of 85 this weekend. That means fall was finally on its way! My mind should be planning outdoor activities for the family this weekend, because after being trapped inside for three months, we cab finally spend a weekend outside without roasting.
But instead, I've spent the week in bed, lying there in pain, cursing the weather and cursing my body. After months of feeling better I was once again relegated to bed, with even the simplest task draining me of energy. Instead of enjoying the sound of the raindrops on my window, they pounded into my head, making it throb worse.
My favorite season had become my biggest frustration.
Some of you may be struggling with something similar.
Maybe it's not your health.
Maybe it is grief. You are about to walk through your first holiday season without your loved one, and that holiday that once was your favorite has now become a dreaded time for you.
You just sent your child off to college, and your home, which was once filled with their laughter and dirty socks is now too quiet, and you aren't sure what to do without them. Your favorite place has now become somewhere you don't want to spend your time.
Your marriage is struggling and that relationship that once felt so safe and secure now feels like it is faltering.
It is a horrible feeling to find yourself hating a thing or a place or a time that you once cherished, because somehow it feels like two losses. And that is where I found myself this week. And the more I hurt physically, the more I began dreading the thing I loved.
And then God whispered this verse from Isiah 61 into my soul: To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.
The only thing I focused on during this pain is ashes, and I forgot the beauty. I forgot that even during the days with pain, even some days where I don't make it out of bed, the leaves will still change colors, painting a beautiful landscape. I forgot that my sweaters will come out of the attic and I will wrap up in them, finding comfort in their softness. I forgot the joy that will fill my heart every time I hear my kids giggling as they jump in leaf piles and the love that will fill my soul with every pot of my grandmother's homemade soup I make. I forgot that even if I'm stuck in bed, I will smell the crisp fall morning air because we will turn the AC off and open the windows.
And don't even get me started on the new fall TV line-up.
The good news, my friends, is that when we our favorite becomes our frustration, we don't have to try to fix it. God may not change the situation. He won't make it summer in Texas last forever --- please no -- nobody wants that! But He will give me a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair, and a crown of beauty for ashes.
And he will do the same for you.
And with those promises, my favorite can be my favorite again.