It’s been several weeks ago now. I was sitting in my car with some time to kill because I was early for an appointment. Just the day before, a pretty significant snow storm rolled through, but that storm was gone now and all that was left was cold air, sunshine, and a snow-blanket on the ground. I don’t know what made me notice, but the sunlight was hitting the mirror on my car door in just the right way and drops of melting snow sparkled and shimmered. I watched as the snow melted into drops of water that swelled until they couldn’t hang onto the car anymore, and then they fell to the ground. Drop after drop formed… the same way, with the same result. I thought about what it means to just let go.
Maybe there is something to be said for just letting go.
When I came back to the car after my meeting, the drops of melting snow had formed icicles hanging from the mirror on my car.
And they were beautiful.
I’ve thought a lot about icicles since then. Because in some ways, those icicles are a lot like me.
I have thought about the way icicles form. Snow melts into drops of water, and then almost immediately freezes again. This strange and yet amazing process of melting and freezing and melting and freezing… layers of ice form over layers of ice, and the icicle grows. The water tries to let go, and then it gets stuck. It’s like the water is struggling against itself, like it’s getting in its own way… and I certainly know what that is like.
I know this struggle well. I know what it is to want so much to live in surrender. I have swelled with joy and peace to the point where all I want to do and all I can do is trust and let go. I know surrender brings freedom and I have lived melted and fluid, falling into the safe arms of God.
And I have lived in this place of letting go and then almost immediately freezing in fear and anxiety. Much like those icicles, I fight against myself, getting in my own way. Layers of fear, disappointment, frustration and shame have formed. My heart has places that are so frozen that it’s hard to feel anything at all. I can be so cold and… numb.
And yet, icicles are one of my favorite things about winter. I love the way they sparkle in the sunlight, and I am mesmerized by the way they form. Even when it seems like they are struggling, I know they are doing exactly what God designed them to do. The struggle is what makes them grow… and it’s what makes them beautiful.
Without the struggle, there is no growth. And even in the struggle, there is beauty.
And maybe instead of fighting against my own struggle… instead of trying so hard to stop trying so hard… maybe I should let the struggle grow me and change me. Maybe I should just let the struggle be part of God’s plan.
Maybe I should let the struggle be beautiful.
I snapped one of the icicles off of my mirror. Something told me it had to be broken. Always, first the breaking.
The breaking of my will, of my stubborn pride.
The breaking away from the things I cling to and the people who I think are going to somehow make me whole and complete.
The breaking that hurts, but ultimately reminds me how much I desperately need to be healed.
God gently breaks me away from my plans so that I can live out His plan for me, which is beyond anything I can conjure up on my own. He reminds me that people and things aren’t going to make me whole because only He can do that. God gently breaks me so that I remember how His strength is made perfect in my weakness. It is when I am broken that I remember how much I need Him.
Jesus himself was broken… and we break bread to remember.
Yes, always… first the breaking.
And then… The melting.
I held the icicle in my hands and I began to see. This is the way…maybe the only way.
I looked up and noticed that even though the sun was shining, the air was still very cold. True, some of the snow would melt, but it would not melt completely. I thought about how it was possible for it to look so warm outside, and yet be so cold. Or how I could live in this place of appearing to be fine, and yet be painfully frozen inside. Where is the disconnect?
I realized this truth: The sun didn’t change… it was still burning as strongly as it always does. It was just too far away for its heat to reach the frozen earth. The problem wasn’t that the sun had somehow changed, that its power was weakened. The problem was distance. Winter happens when the earth gets too far away from the sun.
And for me, winter happens when I get too far away from the SON.
This struggle, the constant striving, the relentless melting and freezing… sometimes I am too far away from the SON. The SON doesn’t change. The problem isn’t that His power is somehow weakened. The problem is distance. When I stop doing those things that keep me connected to Him, I also limit His ability to reach those frozen places in me. Maybe part of the reason I feel so numb and disconnected inside is because I essentially deny God access to the frozen places. I am not always willing to surrender everything to Him.
As the icicle softened in my hand, so did my heart. It was the warmth of my hand that began to melt the ice… it needed a touch from an outside source.
It needed to be held.
I need to be held.
In the deepest part of me, I need to be held.
Oh, I fight against it, I argue, I wrestle… I swore a long time ago that this need to be vulnerable would only get me hurt again and that there was no way I would let that happen. I learned that the opposite of chaos is control, and I gripped my hands tight and unyielding around my heart and my life.
But I admit, in spite of all of my striving and my wrestling, all I really want is to be held. I long for my Heavenly Father to pick me up and hold me. I struggle and wrestle because I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed, but in my Father’s arms, there is no fear or disappointment. I don’t know why I forget, but I do know that God is forever patient with me. He is always there, longing to hold me. All I have to do is let Him.
I have to let Him break me, hold me, and melt me… that may be the only way to let Him heal me.
I looked down at my hand. The icicle was gone now. Drops of cold water had formed in my hands and dripped off the ends of my fingers. At the same time, drops of warm water formed in my eyes.
Those frozen places are beginning to melt. And it is beautiful.