When the weight of winter
lays heavy on the limbs,
even evergreens
will bow their heads and sigh.

When freezing fog or frost
turn branches black and white,
even evergreens
succumb unto the gray.

When seasons shift severe
and doubt bends hard the bowers,
even evergreens
can seem to die or cower.

When brave is pushed beyond,
count not such valor cheap
for outward signs of breaking—
not only willows weep.

Two things stand out to me as I again read this poem and soak in the striking image of winter’s frost weighing down the evergreens.

First, I am moved by how the seasons of severe weather in our lives, we can be pushed beyond our breaking, and how important it is in such times to be open and honest with those around us. As the Lord leads us, may we allow others to hear our pain, come alongside, share the burden, and be the family of God to each other.

Secondly, I am reminded of how much I respect and appreciate those strong leaders in my life who are genuinely transparent about their faults, mistakes and pains in their lives.  Among others, one person stands out for me in this regard, Pastor Jimmy Evans of Marriage Today and Trinity Fellowship Church in Amarillo, Texas. Not only have I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Evans speak on numerous occasions, but I have for years interacted with him behind the scenes as part of the production team at Trinity Fellowship. I have come to know that his humble transparency on stage, regarding his own failings and shortcomings, is consistent with the person I know him to be off stage. It is so inspiring because, in my career, I have worked with many high profile personalities where that was not the case.

May we all have such genuineness growing in our lives and let us support and encourage those around us who lead the way in being secure enough in Christ to be both strong and courageous, and humble and emotionally honest.

When we are open about our pain, our gratitude is all the more powerful, and the life of Jesus shines through

[We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:8-11 KJV)