Two years ago a friend gave me a beautiful brass tree ornament for my birthday. It’s in the shape of a leaf and is engraved with these words: “Every season tells a new story”, followed by the year – 2015. I like it so much that I bought an ornament hanger so I could leave it out all year long. This particular friend was facing the dissolution of a forty year plus marriage, a divorce she did not want but could not stop and the prospect of starting over at a place in her journey where she never imagined that would be happening.
I watched in amazement as she sold her home and much of her furniture, packed up her life and moved to a new state to begin this new season. No it wasn’t easy and yes there were times she felt sadness, anger, disappointment and even grief but she did it! She bought a new home which held none of the memories and ghosts of her former life, found a new church, became involved in a women’s group, made some new friends and dyed her hair a different color (yes sometimes it helps to have a new look to accompany a new season!)
I was supremely proud of the way she carried on, stubbornly refused to give up on life and laughter and carved out a new identity for the new season she was in. It was much the same kind of pride I felt when I watched my mother who, in her mid fifties, lost the love of her life to cancer. Yes she missed him terribly every day and no I don’t believe her life was ever as full or rich without him in it but I marveled at how she clung passionately to the sense of purpose she held before she ever married my dad. I still hear from women whose lives were touched by words she spoke as she ministered at women’s retreats and conferences across the country. I’m certain she had to make a conscious decision to maximize her new season of singleness and to focus on its pleasures rather than its pain.
“Savoring Life In All Its Stages” is the tagline for my Third Season blog. I clearly remember when I quit working to become a stay at home mom and what an adjustment it was to be at home with a nonverbal infant all day after being used to the daily conversation and camaraderie of my coworkers. I no longer dressed up in cute outfits to head out the door early enough to beat the morning traffic. In fact, there were days I would be doing well to have showered by the time my husband came home for dinner. Quite honestly initially I felt lonely and isolated and like my brain was turning to mush. But eventually I learned to embrace the more relaxed schedule, made friends with other moms, scouted out a couple of good baby sitters to give myself an occasional break and truly learned to relish that sweet season of early motherhood.
There have been many different seasons since then but I’ve always tried to live by the mantra of learning to enjoy and savor the season I’m currently in. We’ve gone from living in a cosmopolitan city to being on ten acres in the country to learning to survive the harshness of Alaskan winters. Every season brought its beauty and its blessings. At the same time, each season presented challenges to be conquered and lessons to be learned. Going beyond being able to SURVIVE and learning to THRIVE in seasons of change is the optimal goal.
Embracing change makes us flexible and adaptable and gives us the ability to keep moving forward. Refusing to accept or adapt to the changes a new season brings leaves us stuck, ineffective and often unhappy. And WHO in their right mind would want to live in an unhappy place? Not me!
Going beyond being able to SURVIVE and learning to THRIVE in seasons of change is the optimal goal.
Steve Maraboli writes in Life, The Truth, and Being Free that “Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t”. I love those words. That one sentence embodies enough truth for me to chew on and try to digest for at least a couple of days.
Borrowing words from the book of Ecclesiastes, the folk rock band, The Byrds, recorded a song titled “Turn Turn Turn”. Whenever I hear that song I am immediately taken back to my college days when I would pile stacks of LP albums on my turntable to serve as background music to my studying.
Ecclesiastes 3: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
As a young college student I had no way of knowing the depth of these words or that I would eventually either experience or witness all of them in a lifetime. What I DID know how to do, however, was to capitalize on the fun and freedom of those college days, to savor the innocent and carefree moments and to enjoy that season of my life.
Oddly enough, I believe it’s also important to savor even the hard seasons. I was with each of my parents as they were dying and even in death there is a certain savoring, a treasuring of those last few precious moments together, those last sentences spoken, that last look of recognition and the last sharing of memories. Seasons of loss definitely bring pain but can also bring us depth of character, a sort of texturing of our souls. The hard seasons can refine us, strengthen us and bring us to a place of increased awareness.
Seasons of loss definitely bring pain but can also bring us depth of character, a sort of texturing of our souls.
As hard as I thought it was adjusting to motherhood initially, sending my last child off to college twenty-eight years later was even harder! I worried about our marriage, about how I would fill my time in meaningful ways and about how to fill the void left after almost three decades of having children in our home. Ever faithful and always good, God helped me through that new season as well.
Isaiah 41:10 offers great comfort when we are facing unknown territory. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
If you are facing a new season and are uncertain about what it may hold, let the charge from Joshua give you courage as you go forward, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged; for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Enter your new season with your head held high and eyes wide open. You may be surprised at the treasures waiting for you there.