Image by Kate Hansen from Pixabay
We got a little over seven inches of snow here last weekend. It was one of those 24-hour storms with big, lazy snowflakes that covered everything over with a blanket of pure, sparkling white.
It left the world looking completely transformed by the time it ended. All of the yard work not quite finished to perfection, all of the places that need a bit of repair, all of the unbeautiful grays of winter were entirely hidden from sight.
There's a neighbor down the street a ways from here who didn't get around to raking leaves until earlier this month. The extra leaf collection by the trash company ended over a month ago, so there is now an enormous mountain of huge black trash bags filled with leaves sitting in front of this neighbor's house that won't disappear any time soon.
The snow covered over even that big pile of trash to create a gently undulating mound of white, sparkling snow instead.
It's been cold enough that the snow has melted only a little in the days since, but the neighborhood's normal reality is already poking up through that sea of white. As I drove home from my run to the post office yesterday, I could already see the black of the trash bags in my neighbor's yard poking through.
As usual, that coating of new, completely transformed life was only temporary. Whatever lies beneath will eventually reappear.
It reminds me so much of life.
At the beginning of a new relationship, a new job, a new change of any kind, life can feel completely transformed. All the sharp edges and pain points of my earlier reality feel erased by the sparkling newness of this fresh start.
I have a tendency to think I've finally fixed all my old issues, healed all those old lingering wounds, and I've finally landed in a perfect spot where life will be easy and beautiful and perfect from here on out.
It never lasts, of course. No matter how wonderful that fresh start might be and no matter how many issues it may genuinely address, anything and everything I haven't fully dealt with is still hiding there beneath that sparkling layer of newness just waiting for its chance to poke back through the surface as the newness melts away.
The same old relationship issues I've struggled with before show up in new relationships. The same old work issues gradually appear in the new job. My same old sharp edges and sore spots are still there, as are the same old unhealed, unbeautiful places in my life.
It's tempting in those moments to want to run after some new change in the hopes that maybe this snowfall of fresh newness will be the one that lasts, but time has taught me that whatever lies beneath the surface of that coating of newness will always poke its way through the surface in time.
What's buried will never stay that way. The path the healing and transformation come through dealing with those sharp edges and sore spots, not by covering them over.
Don't get me wrong! I still enjoy new things and the respite that fresh starts can bring. A fresh start can even be vital to providing the space and opportunity for healing. I just no longer expect them to magically fix what lies beneath.
Rather than chasing continual new starts, I'm focusing on dealing with the hard, uncomfortable stuff of life where I am, and in the process of doing so, I'm creating a life with fewer of those painful, unhealed spots that seek to hide.
We're scheduled to get another round of snow tomorrow, which should hide those unsightly black trash bags in the neighbor's yard for another day or two, but they'll still be there for a long time yet unless the neighbor decides to do something proactive to remove them.
Can you relate?
Have you ever found yourself chasing after a new start with the (possibly unacknowledged) hope that it would fix some part of your life?
How well did that work for you? How many of those issues came back in the same or slightly different form as the newness wore off?
What things are you currently trying to bury in your life? What would it look like to let them stay on the surface and deal with them instead?
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