Seasonal times of the year channel excitement.
It’s only October but for me it’s the dawning of Christmas season with caramel apple spice in my cup.
Soon there will be snowflakes fluttering outside… Snowmen stationed in the front lawns… Right now pumpkins are resting outside the door and thanksgiving turkeys soon go on sale at Kroger but I’m already thinking about the cute reindeer sweater I want to dig out of my closet. The seasonal one. The one made for December but I’ll wear the week before thanksgiving. The seasons of winter… the seasons that knock on the door like clockwork. Every December Christmas arrives. It carols. It heralds a new time of year.
Last week I awoke to another season encroaching.
Clockwork. It came again just like it did 4 years ago, and 6 years before then and 4 years before then. Sharp pain ensuing in my left side was all too familiar. Wishful snowflakes and ice cold bliss outside my window would be perfect right now, I thought. Instead it was the burning sensation of kidney stones.
Like the seasons that greet us with merriment, I found myself met with the jolting of tiny crystals ready to make their exit Thursday morning. Being shaped like sharp pointed snowflake crytals in my body makes it hard to cherish the sentiment. But after 4 recurrences I’m learning more about myself each time and how God meets us in the unexpected and the painful.
I find God strengthens us with every occurrence of struggles in life, reminding us that God uses the struggles of life we face to increase resilience and closeness with Him. This comes with questions and wrestlings through why certain occurrences happen. It’s good for our relationship with the Lord to be honest with Him about how we feel. I don’t believe God is the cause of catastrophe but I do know He is brilliant enough to create something good in the wake.
My first recollection of kidney stones connects me with my puppy Shelbee in Prescott Valley when I was 15. She was our new golden retriever puppy we got in Glendale, AZ that summer and my dad brought her into my room after he had to pick me up from school. She squirmed around as I tried to hold her, restless with a sense of bewilderment at what was going on with me. That made two of us.
Since then I’ve learned that my body processes calcium in a way that forms calcium oxalate stones in the kidneys. I’m pretty healthy and have watched certain things over the years but they keep coming back.
Sometimes we do all we can to ensure positive results and still met with unfortunate events. I think this is one of the biggest barriers we can have in our life with Jesus… when things happen that don’t make sense. However, I’ve witnessed God working in each occurence. And I know from experience that He is someone who loves me, who loves His people, and I may now know why but I want to keep following Him. I still have questions and unknowns but I want to keep working that out with the Lord for His is everything to me.
What’s fascinating about kidney stones is that they can remain dormant in the kidneys for years at a time and you can’t feel them. It’s only when something triggers it enough over time and it’s jolted out of place for it to move out of the kidney.
Kidney stones can also be symbolic of the hopes, dreams, prayers and passions that God places in our hearts.
What aspirations and dreams do you have?
What prayers are you are contending for?
What passions has Jesus given you that you want to express for Him?
Sometimes we find ourselves stuck as we ponder these questions. Because there can be times when we don’t see God move. And it feels like certain parts of our lives are resting dormant even when we are being active to follow the Lord with our whole hearts. Just like the stones in my kidneys, they keep growing but don’t always burst forth until a certain time.
Maybe a hope or prayer remains that God hasn’t answered…
Maybe you’re in a new season and wondering what’s next…
Maybe the hopes and you have dreams within you waiting to burst forth aren’t coming to fruition…
Maybe the gifts God’s placed within you still haven’t found the right place to come to life…
…and you feel like you’re in between Egypt and the Promised Land…
God is reminding me lately about His power to move in our lives as we rest in His love and trust Him with our lives.
It’s not about waiting for something to happen… it’s about resting in Jesus’ love and letting what He already planned come to fruition at the right time.
And when we are suppossed to take a step, we will know. When God wants to move, He will.
I’m learning that when we feel stuck, God can do something in one instance to trigger it to fruition. It only takes one more movement from the Lord to make it comes to pass. Kidney stones can remain stuck in my body for months or years at a time, but it only takes that final trigger for it to move out the kidney.
“At the right time, I, the LORD, will make it happen.”
I was able to pass this kidney stone that started its exodus Thursday. However waiting for it to pass is agonizing. Its a feeling akin to felt shards of glass mixed with a blindsided tackle from a linebacker. I can tolerate the pain a lot more now than I used to be able to. But it’s the in between phase that causes the most pain.
In the inbetween phase, it can feel like our prayers are unanswered. Whether it’s a prayer, a job, a relationship, an aspiration, or plans for the future, unknowns present questions and waiting. I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 3:7 which says, “It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” While waiting and yielding to the Lord, I want to remind my heart to have peace that God will bring growth. This is comforting because it takes the pressure off.
Sometimes it requires much watering and planting before we see that bloom bursting from the soil. Just like it take times for a kidney stone to pass.
But we can be obedient to what God said and trust that He will bring growth.
Each time I have passed a kidney stone, it’s been years apart and this is because if a stone has formed, it requires much movement for it to travel from the kidney to the urinary tract and out of the body. So I try to exercise as much as I can. Over time, the exercise, movement, and daily life activities play a role in helping the kidney stone to get a place where it jolts out of the kidney and then out of the body.
Every step of faith we take contributes to what God is growing and blossoming in our lives.
God designed you with captivating creativity, beauty, complexity, brilliance, gifts and abilities that is stirring in you He made you to manifest. And that has already been developing within you.
You have likely already seen the gifts and dreams God has placed within you and doing around you because it releases more and more overtime.
As I think back to all the occurrences I’ve had with kidney stones, I realize something very interesting… I’ve had a stone that passes every first year of a new season in my life.
Ever since then, the stones release more and more over the years.
The first occurrence was my 1st year of high school (2005), the second was my 1st year of college (2009), the third was my 1st year of seminary (2015), and now the fourth is my 1st year post-seminary (2019).
God is doing something both in the ordinary and in the new seasons of our lives. He’s doing something in you that is ready to birth and bloom.
In my kidney stones I see these insights and I hope it encourages you…
- I see how God births something out of us in new seasons that’s been waiting to come out for so long. Dreams, hopes, passions, etc.
- I see how God has been providing in all those seasons of my life, always giving me what I needed even and I can be thankful although my heart still struggles with the lacks or unanswered prayers.
- I see how discomfort accompanies every new season just like the pain of a kidney stone passing. There’s an adjustment phase we experience as we enter into the promised land because of the fact we’ve been living in a different season for so long. Sometimes our blessings hurt when it’s manifesting. But after it leads to so much bliss and joy as we enter in.
- I see it’s okay to be weak because God is strong. I’m used to being the strong One and taking care of everything because I have to. But with this happening I’m reminded I really need others. I can’t do it all myself. I want people in my life who can be there for me as I nurture them too. Life is meaningful because of the people God puts in it.
- I see how God strengthens resilience and calm with ever recurrence of a trial… I tolerate pain so much more than I used to because of this. The good news is that some trials won’t recur. They are one and done. But every time we walk through that with Jesus, we gain strength and experience from the battle that makes us resilient the next time around.
- I see how sacrifice, desire and obedience to the Lord is not wasted but is worth the blessing God wants to birth. I remember when I gave up my future teaching career to change my major to religion in college. I chose to go to seminary and this year alone have turned down 2 teachings jobs because I sense God saying not right now. Sometimes I wonder if I’m hearing Him correctly or not. But I know deep down I want to follow Jesus with my whole life. And I’m willing to wait on things that I know God has said say to even if uncertain and doesn’t make sense. Just want to encourage you that even when our yes to God leaves us in more unknowns, I have to believe it will lead to what He had planned.
- I see how God creates His people with so much life, creativity, passion, brilliance and aspirations just waiting to burst forth and come to life. You possess so much beauty and radiance already. And God is continually bringing it to pass more and more, revealing more of who you are as you journey with Him.
- I see how God was preparing something all along that He was going to make happen… and it will bless us once it comes to pass.
What I know is that what we speak over ourselves carries influence. So I have to find a way to wrestle through the uncertainties and frustration with God or else I will sabatogue myself in discouragement.
It’s okay to grapple through it with the Lord and have questions along the way. All that I’ve learned from this over the years only comes from me being able to talk it out with Jesus and let my heart and mind come back to a place of openness with Him while knowing He loves me. So that can provide a framework of seeing His heart of love for me in the midst of what’s happening. saying, okay God… I know You love me and I want to trust You. Show me how I can see You in this.
Still part of me wonders why God let’s me go through this. I’m a healthy young woman and yet I have kidney stones… it doesn’t make sense. Why me, Lord? Why this of all things? Why a 4th time when I try to be healthy? I don’t know.
The more we go to Jesus with our raw questions and overwhelm, the more He can speak encouragements back into our hearts to in the midst of the questions. It may not eliminate every question but it gives us a Person who knows all things that we have access to and can communicate with about it. He soothe our souls.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
– Jesus (John 15:11)
What Jesus speaks to us is intended to bring joy. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety weighs down the heart of a man, but a good word cheers it up.” There exists an oasis of positive self-talk rooted in God’s words about us. Speaking positivity to our hearts is what Jesus does for us as well.
Your mind is just waiting for your mouth and heart to speak encouragement to it.
A mindset of gratitude and positivity will uplift your mind… then your body will feel that as well. Our minds are incredibly powerful. Utilize it to lift your spirits.
The Lord may heal me of this in the future so that I never have another one, or He may bring it around in another season of a first year for me again. Only He alone knows. If it does I don’t know if there will be pumpkins outside my door and Christmas carols on the horizon, but I think God is creative and He has a time in mind. Maybe there is a purpose in it I will know after this life. It sounds bizarre that I would be thinking ahead about this but I find that the more I see God working in it the more it’s helping me to not see it as a point of shame but as an opportunity to let Jesus close in the broken areas of life just the same. And I want that. I want to know Jesus more and more everyday even in my weaknesses and wanderings.
Whatever your “kidney stone” is (prayers, callings, dreams, future, etc), I believe God can bring it to pass. I still have my own that rest in the heart and the soul that I’m waiting to see come to pass. But God know these places in all of us. No matter how life unfolds, I believe His love remains. He cares. God has so much in store for you that He is preparing and it’s getting ready to blossom. Seize it. Embrace it. Believe it…
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”