Small Doses of Replenishment

Learning how to create sustainable renewal

Feb 19, 2024

Transformation Change Seasons Surrender Renewal
cherry blossom tree from below angle

Photo by Arno Smit

Spring is less than a month away. I can feel it in the air. The temperature rising into the upper 50s. The sound of birds preparing to look for the perfect tree to call home. Walking by a small lake in our neighborhood, I see the ducks and geese have returned to the thawed water. It was still frozen not more than a week ago. The tiniest of buds have begun appearing on the trees in our backyard. Everything around me is showing signs of renewal. And I can’t help but long for some of that too.

Sometimes I’m envious of nature, as absurd as that sounds. Especially the trees. How they can just shed themselves every year and start over. How they can release the dead weight of barren branches and make room for new life. They so effortlessly surrender to the seasons, without resistance or fear. They are gifted with the opportunity to begin anew, over and over, no matter what the year brought and what storms they faced. This led me to wonder—can we do the same?

There are countless stories of individuals who have started over, who transformed from past selves into someone different. People who have witnesses unimaginable horror and been able to reconstruct a new life for themselves. These stories are incredible and moving, but extreme. What I’m craving is an annual renewal, and often even a monthly one, that is on a much more minor scale and yet just as powerful.

There’s a reason we celebrate on New Year’s Eve, welcoming a new beginning. There’s a reason we write monthly and quarterly goals, why we have resets and self-care days. There are many cultures that have dedicated rituals for beginnings and endings. We all crave a fresh start.

Maybe inherent in the idea of starting over is the illusion that our past and all of its burdens will magically disappear.

That by setting goals and turning the page in our monthly calendar, we are shedding existing bad habits and stresses. But unfortunately, unless we have a major transformation, they follow us into every next chapter.

The weight of our vices and worries clings onto us like tree sap. We may be able to shed some of them month to month and year to year, but they’ll just be replaced with new ones that change in form but not in substance. We are not afforded the opportunity to hibernate for a season, exempt from all responsibilities in order to recharge. The best we can do is go on vacation or take a social media break.

And so we learn how to carry on and keep moving forward with all of that dead weight attached. But we understand that tending to the buds within us is more important, more worthwhile, than picking up the fallen leaves. Where we place our energy is where we will bear fruit. Come what may, if we can learn to balance growth with facing the loads that afflict us, we can have enough momentum to generate the renewal we are seeking.

Maybe new beginnings don’t come about when our circumstances change, but when we press into the things and people we love and that bring us joy.

When we spend our time engaging with lifegiving activities and relationships, every day can feel restorative. Will we still have problems? Absolutely. But perhaps they won’t feel as heavy in the presence of a supportive foundation.

Until I learn how to metamorphose, this approach will have to do. And I’m ok with that. I will take small doses of replenishment that manifest every other day than waiting for the larger dose every other decade.

We may not be able to shed our skin like snakes or hibernate like bears, but we can “be transformed by the renewal of [our] mind” (Romans 12:2). We can make different choices that are healthier and focus our mental energy on the positive. We can spend our time on things and with people that energize us. Starting over can be as humble and as difficult as facing another day, determined to do the best we can with where we are and what we’ve been given. The rest is surrender.