• Dana L. Butler

When buds are breaking

I walk alone by the river to clear my head after a long day.

Well, that, and to burn off a few of the calories in that Chick-fil-a cookies ‘n cream shake I had for dessert tonight.

That dang shake was worth every pounding step.

As is the sunset. And the mountain view. And the water moving next to me.

I make it home just before dark, chat with my love, and sit to write for the first time in 6 plus weeks. Which is a trip, y’all, in and of itself.

The internal editor is loud after such a long blogging-silence, and I find myself struggling to still my insides, to fall into gentle step with the Spirit’s heartbeat within, let it guide the rhythm of fingers on keys.

What. a. season, y’all.

I’ve been immersed in making it through, one day at a time. Focused on leaning into Jesus and husband and close friends for what sometimes feels like minute-to-minute doses of strength and perspective.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.

Each inhale a cry of dependence. Each exhale a cry of surrender. Both to this season, and to Him within it. Moving. Forming. Shaping.

This poem made its way across my Facebook newsfeed the other day, and it has not left my heart alone since. It was originally written in Swedish by Karin Boye, but this English translation by David McDuff moved me in my core.

YES, OF COURSE IT HURTS Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking. Why else would the springtime falter? Why would all our ardent longing bind itself in frozen, bitter pallor? After all, the bud was covered all the winter. What new thing is it that bursts and wears? Yes, of course it hurts when buds are breaking, hurts for that which grows and that which bars. Yes, it is hard when drops are falling. Trembling with fear, and heavy hanging, cleaving to the twig, and swelling, sliding – weight draws them down, though they go on clinging. Hard to be uncertain, afraid and divided, hard to feel the depths attract and call, yet sit fast and merely tremble – hard to want to stay and want to fall. Then, when things are worst and nothing helps the tree’s buds break as in rejoicing, then, when no fear holds back any longer, down in glitter go the twig’s drops plunging, forget that they were frightened by the new, forget their fear before the flight unfurled – feel for a second their greatest safety, rest in that trust that creates the world.


My word for 2015 is Unfold.

I knew it was scary, and I knew it was what Jesus was doing. But I had no clue how it’d play out.

Actually, that’s not completely true. I had ideas. About loving huge and being poured out to see folks encounter the transformative Presence of Jesus. About being a part of a church family where I’d be free to learn, albeit gradually, to bring my whole self, my full voice, my unrestrained heart to the table.

And those things have played out as I’d hoped. Being with our church family here, and particularly pouring into and being so received by my worship team, continues to be profoundly healing and full-on life-altering for me. The sweetest gift.

What I don’t think I could have expected was how this profound joy could be so very present alongside great pain, how it could straight up hurt to unfold with so many watching, while being brought to the utter end of myself by various life circumstances.

All this unfolding of good and gut-wrenching all at once. The pouring out. The bleeding.

I hate to be so vague and so graphic all at once, but I’m thanking you all yet again for grace, friends, because I don’t think I’m ready to share specific details here in this space quite yet.

We are bumping up against some overwhelming mountains in our personal lives, but we’re by no means without hope. We’re pressed but not crushed, and the pressing is straight into His heart.

The pressing breaks me open, provokes further unfolding.

Whom have I in Heaven but You? Earth has nothing I desire besides You.

Gracious and compassionate. Slow to anger. Rich in love.

My portion. My portion. My portion.

These facets of God’s heart are my mantras and they are balm to my soul. I contemplate His scandalous extravagance, and in all the pressing and the stretching and the bleeding and the breaking open, He is wildly good. His tenderness runs deep and sweet.

He heals even while He expands my heart. He covers and comforts and satisfies even while circumstantial struggle lays my insides wide open.

I can grasp for relief from the pain, but surrendering to Him within my right now life will leave me carved out to hold Him more.

And y’all? I want the More.

I want every. last. thing. that this season can accomplish on my insides.

Re-reading these last few lines, I realize I’ve said essentially the same thing over and over in this space for years and I’m not sure if y’all are tired of it yet or no, but guys, it’s all I’ve got tonight, this heart-cry.

I want it all, Jesus. I so long to live this undignified, ripped open, wholehearted yes to you, in the midst of my right now. By your grace, I will hold nothing back, no matter how much it hurts when buds are breaking.

What you are forming inside me is infinitely beyond worth it — all of it — and this hand-in-hand journey with you is the destination.

It’s the continually deepening awakening, the walking and abiding and drawing near. Again, and again, and again.

This forever-learning to live in perfect step with the God who is pulling me more and more wholly into Himself. Who is tenderly present within the joy and the breaking and everything in between, fiercely committed to satisfying every solitary need of this fragile soul.


Thanks yet again, my friends, for allowing me to write my insides while waiting to share the outsides. Y’all’s gracious receiving of what I’m able to share is such a gift.

To be clear, Stan and I and kiddos are well overall, just navigating a painful set of challenges in this season. I will share more here in the coming weeks, as I’m able. We covet your prayers for our family in this season.

I love you guys so dearly.

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