I’m a sucker for a fictional blip in time.
It’s one of my favorite plot twists. You’re watching the characters struggle against the plot line, wondering how they’re going to overcome then BOOM. 5 Years Later.
Maybe I like it because we get to skip the boring parts and get on with the story.
Or maybe I like it because it feels like real life.
I can tell you the moment my time blip started. In the fall of 2017, I hit “publish” on Just Us Girls II, and I closed my laptop. It was in that moment I realized that I was empty.
2017-2022 are hidden behind a title plate: 5 Years Later
One of the greatest gifts those give years gave me was better language for my experiences. One of the words I learned in the wilderness of those five years was the word “fallow.” Fallow is a farming term, used to describe a field that has been stripped of its nutrients. There are ways to treat a fallow field, but what it really needs is rest, tending, and time to recover.
A fallow heart is no different.
It needs rest—the kind of rest that pulverizes the worship of its own market value.
It needs tending—the tending of kind friends and good teachers who restore and love unconditionally.
It needs time—there is no rushing the healing of a fallow heart (believe me, I tried).
I tried to punch my way through that title plate, skip to the end of the recovery season, and every time I fell exhausted at the feet of Jesus, and He told me to be still.
So I finally obeyed and learned to love this quiet, transforming, aching, restoring season.
I went to London with my best friend, and drank hot chocolate in Paddington Station. I went home. I watched my friends grow up and move away. I grew up and moved away. I did ministry with teenagers and remembered why I love writing books for them.
The pandemic was longer and lonelier than I ever imagined. I finished my degree while crying my eyes out on my living room floor. I baked bread like everyone else. I waited for it to end like everyone else. I waited to feel better. I didn’t feel better. I found a therapist, and she helped me find my way out of the dark.
I quit my job, changed careers, and howled at God like a prophet on a mountainside. I tore the plaster out of my faith until I found the brass tacks. I gathered them in my hands–Love. Obedience. Kindness. Holiness. The Gospels. The character of Christ. Justice. Mercy. Humility. I stopped saying things I didn’t believe in. I stopped writing them too.
But I didn’t stop writing. Journals and journals, messages, sketches, scribblings that never saw the light of day,
like a harvest tilled under
back into the ground
enriching the tired soil.
I met my husband. I married him. I made new friends. I settled in a church that felt like home. I watched the sun rise over my life and it was beautiful.
© Hannah Woo Stills and Cinema
And five years later, I opened my laptop, and just like that, the plot picked up again.
I’m a sucker for those time jumps, because they are an act of mercy from the author to the character. It is the Creator’s way of saying, “This plot is not finished, this battle is not won, the dream is still ahead, and I will wait for you. So rest and take courage.”
But I have not forgotten you, even for a moment. The middle schoolers, high schoolers, Bible study leaders, young writers, creatives, story-lovers, and the college students who forgot they subscribed to this blog back in the 8th grade. To steal a lyric that one of my favorite songs stole from CS Lewis—you are the decorated army of my heart. It is my honor to serve you intentionally in a way that images Christ. Forgive my stumblings and shortcomings. I believe that we have miles yet to travel, and I am grateful for you.
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