When my husband and I adopted our older daughter Lilly 15 years ago, she was nine-months-old and weighed about 17 pounds.
That might not seem like much, but she was a chunk of a little girl—so much so that people we met in elevators and restaurants in China often mistook her for a two-year-old.
I had worked on my cardiovascular fitness in the months leading up to our adoption trip, and my regular runs on the treadmill prepared me to traverse the Great Wall with relative ease. My upper body strength, however, was a different story entirely.
My arms and back were so weak that I could hold Lilly for only a few minutes at a time before passing her off to my husband. As a result, when we were out and about in China, she spent most of her time chewing on the strap of the Snugli that held her close to his chest.
Amid the excitement and stress of becoming parents halfway across the globe, I sometimes worried about my ability to care for her when we returned home.
What am I going to do when Randy goes back to work and I have to take Lilly somewhere, I asked myself. How am I going to carry her around when I can hardly hold her now?
What happened, of course, was that the more I carried her, the stronger I got. And as she grew, so did my strength.
Three years later, we returned to China to adopt our younger girl, Molly. Though older than Lilly had been by four months, she also weighed 17 pounds. But because we were used to picking up four-year-old Lilly, who was small by American standards but made up of solid muscle, little Molly seemed as light as a feather.
I’ve been thinking about this lately as I navigate circumstances in my life that are requiring a bit more emotional and mental energy than usual. When I was a new mom, 17 pounds was almost more than I could manage, while carrying the same weight three years later—in the same unfamiliar setting, no less—was pretty easy.
In the same way, it occurs to me that different seasons of life weigh differently than others. Some are heavier, some are lighter. That’s just the way it is.
It might be that the difference lies in the actual weight, or burden, that we’re carrying. A 100-pound load is tougher to lug around than one that weighs 25 pounds, after all. It doesn’t matter if the burden is internal or caused by situations outside our control—heavy is heavy, regardless of the source.
Our preparedness or current state of mind also plays a role. When we adopted Molly, she seemed light to me, even though she weighed exactly the same as Lilly when we got her. But I was different. I was stronger, a bit more experienced and confident in my ability to be her mama.
It was just easier.
Sometimes, it’s the gravity of the season we’re in that can make it seem like we are walking around with a ton of bricks on our chest. Certain phases in our lives simply hold more significance than others—there’s more at stake and more rides on the outcome.
External circumstances affect the weight of a season, too. A level path doesn’t require as much energy as a steep incline, and it’s much easier to carry that 100-pound burden when it’s 50 degrees outside than it is when the thermometer reaches 95 in the shade.
In the same way, what’s going on around us can sometimes make what’s happening within us all the more difficult.
My reality right now, and probably yours too, is this: I’m dealing with different seasons of life simultaneously.
Some are heavy; others are light. When the weight of a heavy piece overwhelms me, I’m often at a loss for what to do. I want an answer, a solution, a three-step plan for how to make the burden lighter—or better yet, disappear.
But life doesn’t work like that, does it? There are no bows, no pat answers, no quick fixes. As helpful as they can be, there are no Bible studies or books that can fast-forward us through the weightier times.
But there is truth. There are promises to cling to, if we chose to do so. Scripture encourages us to cast our every care on the same sovereign God who hung the stars in the sky and orchestrates the four seasons. Nothing is too big or too small for His loving attention.
When we walk through the fire, the desert, the deep waters, the rocky mountains—He is with us.
No matter the season, He knows what we need. He knows what our loved ones need. And He will provide exactly that.
Wisdom for the wondering. Love for the lonely. Comfort for the grieving. Water for the thirsty. Boldness for the timid. Peace for the anxious. Rest for the weary.
And, yes, strength for the weak.