Something deep within me sighs with relief when the gray of winter bursts forth with the colors of spring. The days get longer, the grass gets greener and the birds wake us with their songs once again.
Where winter carries its own unique beauty—the beauty of stillness, resilience and solitude; Spring’s beauty thrills with her fresh breaths of new life, lavishing us with colors, sounds and warmth. Trees that looked bare and dead in the winter are now reborn with leaves and blooms, their emergence marking the coming of a different season.
Spring in Ohio usually lasts about three minutes to what feels like winter’s six months, but I enjoy every single second of it.
When I wrote the date in my journal on April 8, 2020, I realized why this time of year speaks to me in such a tangible way.
It’s because much like the earth itself, I was reborn in the spring.
When I was in the thick of my teen years making dumb decisions of chronic self-sabotage, I came home one night high as a kite. I was anorexic, trying drugs like coke and ecstasy, involved in a mutually-abusive relationship and—most toxic of all things—drowning in self-hatred. I had weaved so many webs of lies in my life that I, myself, was becoming trapped by them.
My parents who were—for lack of better terms—the “goodie-two-shoes” type had no idea what they were up against. However, they noted my change in behavior and my mom knew it was well-past time to intervene. When I got home on this particular night, I smelled like weed and my mom picked up on it.
“Get in the car,” she said.
“Why?” I asked, panicked.
“Because God has been telling me there’s something going on in this house and I’m going to find out what it is. You’re getting a drug test,” she answered fiercely.
Fear gripped my sinking heart. I had carefully weaved those webs of lies to hide what was going on beneath the surface. I was going to be exposed for what I really was: A mess and a disappointment.
In the midst of those despairing thoughts, a bible verse I learned as a little girl in Sunday school bubbled to the surface of my heart: The truth will set you free.
I was utterly imprisoned by the deception I had created, the self-hatred I was drowning in and the toxic habits I was forming. Freedom is what I yearned for most and—in that moment—freedom is what Truth had promised me.
Although I was sure I had just heard from God Himself, I wasn’t exactly a willing passenger on that trip to the hospital for a drug test. I was quiet and detached as my mom yelled and threatened; her love intermingling with her fear as she desperately grappled with the destructive daughter she had no power to save.
I failed the drug test miserably and my mom’s hurt and pain was so tangible you could cut it with a knife. I had gotten word that my dad left work to meet us at the hospital.
This is it, I thought. They’re going to send me somewhere.
Prior to having decisive evidence to prove their fears correctly, my dad told me if I got caught doing drugs, he’d send me to Belmont Pines—a behavioral and rehabilitative health hospital for “problem kids.”
This failed drug test would be my one-way ticket out of my house and into a treatment center with all the other kids who made messes and disappointed their parents.
But when my dad entered the hospital room, I wasn’t met with the anger and rage I expected. Behind the hurt and fear in his eyes, I saw the desperation of a father who—in his own humanity—was unable to express the limitless love he had for a daughter whose behavior ripped his heart out.
My barrel-chested, manly-man-of-all-men dad bee-lined right for me. He dropped to his knees and grabbed my hands. He looked me right in the eye and said “What did I do wrong? Please tell me how to help!”
I deserved judgement but was offered a way out. It was a tangible expression of the Heavenly Father’s grace reflected in the broken but unconditional love of the man who knelt before me, undone.
Something inside me broke. Where accusation wanted to rightfully expose me as a mess and a disappointment, my Father had a different story to tell. In His story, I’m a beloved daughter who needs the grace of another chance. I’m a redemption song He’s ready to sing; where the white flag of surrender becomes the backdrop to my greatest love story.
I never touched a hard drug again. The date was April 8, 2004. God said “Remember this date.”
Even though grace—not judgement—defined the moment that changed everything, my choices weren’t without consequence. I was grounded for the entire spring and summer and my parents became fiercely protective where I refused to protect myself. God met me here. In the midst of long, lonely days, He started to show me I could have a real relationship with Him where He speaks to me and leads me; where He is present and involved. I asked Jesus to be my savior when I was seven years old, but until that day a decade later, God was just a list of do’s and don’ts and a rebel heart like mine simply did not have what it took to follow the rules.
Both the rules and the rebellion were death to me, but this real relationship began to bring me to life. I once heard it put “God always revives what religion kills.” My life is a testimony to that truth.
This year, when I realized what day it was and my personal connection to the expression of spring, I looked up the significance of the date April 8. I. Was. FLOORED. If you have some time, you can read what I found here. But to give you the gist—Jesus was resurrected on the 17 day of the Hebrew month of Nissan which translates into—you guessed it—APRIL 8!
God doesn’t waste a thing. A THING.
So, yes, much like the earth itself, I was reborn in the spring. Since that day in early April 2004, it’s been a series of one step forward and two-steps back; a cha-cha dance of sorts with a Creator who is patient with me and who never stops pursuing my rebel heart. He is replacing the dead branches of religion with new growth rooted in love. Each spring, I’m reminded in such a beautiful way He is still doing something new.
Does what’s happening in the earth in a specific season connect with you in a personal, meaningful way? I would love to hear your story. Leave me a comment below.