If we’re being honest, we’ve all said it, or at least thought it. How much longer? I can’t wait until they sleep through the night, or he can talk and tell me what’s wrong or walk or she gets out of diapers.
Or, I’ll be glad when ball season is over or when school starts, or they can drive themselves, or I’ll be glad when this day is over or this month or year. The list is endless. It’s the big things and the little things.
The problem with being human is that we’re human. We’re all in for the good times and then quickly want to hit the fast forward button on the hard parts. I’m the same.
For Best Results
Pick up any almanac and you can find when to plant anything and everything. There is a specific season for every single tiny seed. Maybe you can fudge a little and plant early or late and still get a decent harvest, but for best results, you have to follow the guidelines.
Years ago, a friend recommended I read Spiritual Rhythm by Mark Buchanan. I’ve since read it multiple times. Basically, he asks if we are living in rhythm with the season we are in.
When you’re in the midst of raising kids, long workdays, being the loving wife or husband all of us are trying to be, ministry commitments, spending time with extended family, kids’ practices, making sure everyone is fed and clothed with clean sheets on the bed, you’re lucky to make it to the bed before collapsing from exhaustion.
Will it always be like this? Will this season ever change? I can’t even see the tunnel, let alone a light at the end.
Not only do plants and trees have seasons, but our hearts and souls have seasons too. And they are no respecter of person or age.
Winters are cold, dark, and fruitless. Apart from evergreens, trees are bare and appear as though nothing is happening, no activity.
Life can feel that way sometimes as well. Everything you do feels like an Act of Congress, even to get out of bed.
My dad died three days before Thanksgiving 2020 from Covid, isolated and alone. That winter season that followed was darkness for a long time. I could not muster the strength to attend church for a couple of months, which wouldn’t be a big deal unless you are pastors on staff. Thankfully, I was given the gift of grace to walk out that dark time by leadership.
Maybe you’re dealing with a chronic sickness yourself or your child has cancer or an illness that requires constant care. Maybe you’ve experienced a divorce or loss or are in a season of depression and anxiety. You’re working multiple jobs to make ends meet, and there’s never enough resources. It feels as though you will be stuck here forever.
That doesn’t mean a magic wand is waved and life is filled with white picket fences and a cute puppy dog running around freely. It does mean that those circumstances will not be the weight of the world forever.
But winter can be shaming for those in it. Failure. Lazy. Stupid. Missed it. Our fault. What’s wrong with you?
God created the seasons … all four. Give yourself permission for the season you’re in. We can’t be Wonder Woman or Captain America +24/7, 365 days a year.
During this season, reduce your obligations. Say no a little more than yes. Minimize activities and do small well. Don’t take on big projects, use the Instant Pot more often. Ask the carpool if you can take a break from driving for a short period. Include the family in the chores and yardwork. Kids can pick up limbs and moss out of the yard, clean out the car, separate dirty clothes, fold, and put away at a very young age, load and unload the dishwasher, pack their own lunches.
The therapist I saw during my depression told me it’s not one thing – it’s all those things put together. When we eliminate even the smallest of details and we multiply that several times, we’ve just taken a significant portion from our plate. Evaluate where you are and what small and not-so-small things you can do without.
Spring is wonderful!! Everything starts to thaw, including our toes. We see signs of life. It’s green and healthy, flourishing, and fruitful. Clean air and beautiful outdoors packed with blooming flowers. We notice birds singing away.
Summer for the soul is when you’re driving home one day and there it is. Green. All at once as though it appeared out of nowhere. Flower buds are popping up and there is color.
You wake up one morning and you feel different. The anxiety is missing. The painful hurt you’ve had doesn’t hurt quite as much. You’re not grumpy to your family that morning. You think you’ll take a morning walk or run or grab lunch with a friend. What has lived in darkness for so long is gone and now there’s fresh air to breathe and exhale. The absence of emotion and color has now reversed itself.
The weeping that endured for the night brought JOY in the morning.
If you have a green thumb, plant something new … flowers or a tree or a garden. But don’t forget to plant something spiritually, too. Give back what you didn’t have to give for so long:
- Give a single mom a break who has no one to take the kids for a day or night, or change her oil and rotate the tires.
- Give a freshly baked treat to a neighbor or elderly widow in the church who doesn’t have anyone, or offer to do a fix-up at her house.
- Drop a card with a handwritten note of appreciation or someone who doesn’t get the spotlight.
The small things that once weighed us down are reversed and fill us with joy when we give of ourselves. God’s springtime includes renewal within each of us, and we’re able to pass that renewal along to others.
Summer means fun and time to exhale. Activities that were burdensome are now replaced with rest and activities we love to do: the beach, parks, vacationing, taking in a ballgame, hanging with friends, and barbequing in the backyard. We become childlike.
Our spiritual summer includes not being in a hurry. No football practices or dance practices or school schedules to rush around and make happen. We exhale and spend intentional time with our families and friends. We read a book or look for a new podcast. We lay in a hammock drinking a Coke or iced tea listening to worship music and meditating on the goodness and blessings of God.
When we stop and move at a slower pace, it gives room to hear from God as He whispers new truths and brings new discoveries to us.
Summer also brought summer fruit like sweet watermelons. I live in Florida and have many childhood memories of cutting into cold watermelons and eating them as the juice ran down our arms. And you can eat watermelon forever and never get full!
Our soul yearns for that sweetness that comes from intimacy with our Creator. Intimacy comes when we stop and rest and make room for our mind to rest and create space for communion. Spiritual fruit is a natural result from this.
Fall is my favorite time of the year. Lots of fall festivals happen, cooler weather, fresh produce pops up everywhere and something seems to change in the atmosphere, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner.
There’s celebration, thankfulness, harvest. All the hard work and struggle from previous seasons begin to pay off.
Harvest is symbolic in two ways in Scripture:
- God’s provision for us.
- God’s blessing for others.
Seeds planted produce a harvest months later in which we are the recipient of the blessing. In return, we get to provide blessings for others. It’s one of those win/wins, and the spirit of harvest repeats itself year after year.
Jesus said, “By your fruit you shall know them.”
Mark Buchanan said:
If we are to bear much fruit – if that’s the goal of the Christian life – then the best model for spiritual maturity is seasons. Fruit grows in seasons, and all seasons are necessary for growing it. And seasons are as much about what is not happening as what is. It has as much to do with inactivity as with activity waiting as with working, barrenness as with abundance, dormancy as with vitality. For everything there is a season.
Finding a rhythm and stride for each of these seasons is vital to bearing fruit … bearing much fruit.
None of us lives in a single season forever even if it seems like it. Find your rhythm for each season. Scale back on things when you’re in a winter season. Grow and mature in the springtime. Relax and have fun in the summer. Then enjoy the fruits of your labor in the fall.
Life is hard. Living for Jesus is hard. Find those things that bring life to you. Find friendships that are lasting. Find joy in your spiritual journey. Life truly passes quickly.
I’ve often said, “The days are long, and the years are short.” Find your rhythm for each season and give yourself grace to navigate each one as it comes.
Written by: Peggy Nelson.