The beauty of nature always affects me.
I’m a May baby, and my mom told me that each year around my birthday, I would basically just morph into a new little human. I would grow faster and she would sense that I was renewed with a vigor each year around May 16. As we move into summer, the sunlight begins to pierce the shadows and we are faced with new possibilities. We shed the old, we welcome the new.
The most exciting part of nature for me is the predictability of it. I don’t want every day the same, but I want to know what generally lies ahead. We want to know that no matter what change comes along, we are grounded. We have roots. We will have rainy days, we will have sunny days, but we are firm in the soil. Sprouts pop up next to us and we watch them push forward or die along the way, but our focus remains.
Hillsong Worship has a song called “Seasons” and there is a line which reads, “Like the frost on a rose / Winter comes for us all / Oh how nature acquaints us / With the nature of patience.” We are not moving through time without a plan. We are not without purpose. There are reasons for those struggles we feel in our “winters,” and a summer will come, every single time.
For some reason, these truths are so tough for me to remember when I’m moving through the day-to-day. And even more inexplicably, when I’m in the “sunny” season, I seem to forget this more than when I’m in a “winter.” I feel less grateful when everything is going well, but when I have reminders of the challenges before me, I lean so much more on the wisdom and comfort of my maker. These reminders may not feel necessary in the moment, but I have looked back and realized how it all happened that way for so many reasons that I could never have guessed at the time.
Each season in life brings growth.
Had you told me what would happen to me in my 20’s when I was in my teens, I would have thought, “There is absolutely no way that will be my life.” Same thing for my 30’s. I’d be willing to bet that our lives have not turned out completely the way we expected, both in good and bad ways. I recently heard that “knowing what is going to happen doesn’t make us any more prepared for it,” (thanks, Andy Stanley) and I have to admit, this is true. No matter where we are in life, we are moving forward and there is nothing we can do to stop the change.
Growth can hurt.
“Sometimes the pot has to boil over.” My mother-in-law used this metaphor once to remind me to not be so hard on myself. The time that passes when we are worried or beating ourselves up about something is time we could be spending on our focus as we grow. We can take those frustrations and build them into upward movement. We can take our stubbornness and ask God to move us into acceptance of the inevitable. We are not always going to bloom, and we are going to lose a few buds along the way, pun intended. The faster we look up, the quicker we will be able to see through the clouds. I know I don’t get far when I’m focusing on the ground beneath me instead of looking at the perspective that distance brings.
Letting go of the old growth doesn’t negate its existence.
You know those piles full of old clothes that you just can’t stand to get rid of because you might wear them one day? The progress you made in your life, whether health/fitness-wise or financially, that allowed you to purchase those clothes, means something to you. If you get rid of the clothes, it feels like you’re forgetting how hard you worked to get them in the first place. I have to tell myself that this is not logical. We move at our own pace, but we are also being moved by an unseen hand.
The creator of the universe obviously knows what he’s doing. The way old flowers fall away to allow new blossoms to emerge is the same way God’s favor reveals itself in us. We are not ready until the old has gone. The ways I have seen the hand of the Lord in my seasons of change are immeasurable. There are reasons for the struggle. The valleys are more fertile than the mountains. Again, more wisdom from “Seasons,” “All I know of harvest / Is that its worth my patience…You could have saved us in a second / Instead you sent a child.” We don’t know what is best for us season to season, but God does.