The gift in life's fallow times

Posted by Kenetha Stanton on

water feature covered in ice in my backyard

Have you experienced those times when you life feels completely stagnant?

You feel like you're not growing. No healing seems to be happening. There's no spark of new anything. Each day looks just like the one before.

When you're on a path of healing and personal growth, these times can feel like failure.

If you're anything like me, you get impatient and try to push growth and force healing, and still nothing happens.

As stagnant and full of inertia as these times in my life have often felt, I've discovered that they are seldom what they seem. In fact, they are often a gift in disguise once I see them for what they are.

Life's natural rhythms include fallow seasons, like winter, when trees and bushes and other plants look barren and lifeless. Despite their appearance, however, they are often busy rooting further into the earth to anchor last season's growth and build the capacity for even more growth in the seasons to come.

All that life and activity we think are missing have just moved inward and downward into richer soil instead of the usual forms of upward and outward growth that we so prize.

I see the same thing even more vividly in the waterfall features in my back yard. As you can see in the photo at the top of this post, they have almost completely frozen over in the bitter cold we're experiencing here. Even the falls themselves are coated over with an intricate frozen layer of ice.

It looks frozen into stillness. When I go outside and take a closer look, however, I can see the water still rushing and bubbling as usual right under the surface of the ice.

That ice that looks like it's the end of the waterfalls actually serves as an insulating cover that helps it survive this bitter cold as the water keeps right on doing its thing below the surface.

I love this visual reminder of what those seemingly stagnant times in my life really are.

As dead and dormant as they may feel, they are actually fallow times that allow previous growth and healing to settle deep into my bones. It's time when I am growing the roots of my soul deeper into that which sustains me. It's a layer of protection that allows me to deepen and settle and root more strongly without the distraction of surface change.

What feels like failure is actually a gift in disguise.

It's hard to be patient with the invisible inner deepening in a world that so prizes upward and outward manifestations of growth, but these fallow seasons are crucial for anchoring my growth and healing in ways that allow me approach the next round fully resourced to absorb it.

I've learned to look peek beneath the surface in these times for the little glimpses of the water of life still rushing and bubbling along for reassurance that things are not as stagnant as they may look and feel.

Those glimpses help me wait with patience through the fallow season as I look ahead for more growth to come, knowing that when those times arrive, I will have the root system I need to be ready for it.

What is your experience with the fallow times in your life? Are you able to see the gift in them?

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