What season are you in?
The winds of change are constant, but faith supports us through ups and downs
By Claire Collins
It was 4 a.m. I sat in my rocking chair holding my sleeping baby, using all my strength to keep myself awake.
You may be asking, “Why were you up at 4 a.m. holding your baby? Put them down and go to sleep!”
But if you’ve been a parent, you know full well that as soon as physical contact is removed, babies wake right up screaming at the top of their lungs.
Until, of course, you hold them again, in which case they fall fast asleep.
“It’s just a season,” I told myself as I continued to convince my eyes to stay open.
Of course, this phase doesn’t last forever. After a couple of months (sometimes with lots of crying) those babies learn to sleep and you are, once again, able to sleep somewhat normal hours throughout the night. This, like many other chapters in our lives, has an expiration date.
I can remember being a kid and experiencing the various seasons throughout the year with a limited understanding of their short-lived lifespans.
I held tight to summer with deep desperation, as if it would never come again. I impatiently counted down to Christmas, in awe of the feeling of nostalgia and wonder that always accompanied it. I looked forward to the warmth of spring and the changing leaves of autumn, barely remembering what they felt like.
The shortness of the seasons, in every ebb and flow, was lost on me.
So, when the phrase “it’s just a season” started becoming more present in my mind and heart, it granted me a perspective shift that brought about a new hope and a new freedom.
I first heard this phrase in my Protestant circles of friends in college. They would describe themselves as being in a “season” of hope, waiting, hard work, or whatever else was currently defining their experience.
As I was trying to figure out who I was, what I wanted, and where I was going, I wish I would have known to hold this phrase closer.
The suffering of harder times, the confusion in the times when things were unknown, sometimes felt like they wouldn’t end. The joys of happy seasons were fleeting and seemed to go by too quickly.
But time has a way of showing you the downs of life always have some sort of ups that sooner or later follow, and that the ups don’t usually last forever but are meant to be cherished.
This phrase made its resurgence in my life throughout my time as a missionary but became commonplace in my motherhood.
Whether it has been sleepless nights, arms constantly full of 20 pounds of rolls and cheeks, a child who puts everything in their mouth, or defiant whining, each season so far has been trying in its own right, had its benefits and drawbacks, and has eventually come to an end, giving way to a new set of goodness and challenge.
Unlike many cliches, I have found great freedom in this phrase. The understanding that life tends to happen in these “seasons” has given me a greater hope and trust in God and His plans for my life. I have seen Him bring me out of pits I thought had no escape.
I have seen Him take away something I thought was permanent, but never left me abandoned or empty.
I have seen Him leave prayers seemingly unanswered as I waited in times when the answer wasn’t clear.
But as I look back on those seasons, I see them mostly fulfilled, answered, and completed, though rarely in the ways I expected them to be. And those seasons that are still ongoing have led to growth, trust, and better gifts than I could have imagined.
I don’t think I’m alone in my love of this phrase.
The Church, in her great wisdom, also divides her own experience of the year into seasons. The ebb and flow of the liturgical year brings hope, perspective, gratitude, penance, and growth, not unlike our own lives.
The seasons of joy, like Easter and Christmas, are meant to be lived with feasting and celebration. The seasons of penance, like Advent and Lent, are meant to be challenging and, when embraced, bring about great growth. Ordinary time gives us the space to be, to grow, and to plant deep roots with the Lord.
We also see this seasonal theme in the book of Ecclesiastes, a collection of wisdom that ultimately invites us to trust totally in whatever God wills. I won’t copy it here but take a moment to read Ecclesiastes 3:1-15.
To sum it up, there is a time for everything, and God does not reveal what He has appointed for us ahead of time. He invites us to trust that, in it all, He is good and we can and should receive whatever He has to give us.
While this seems (and most definitely is) challenging, we can see the beauty of the invitation shining through the challenge. We are invited, ultimately, to TRUST in God’s goodness, to BELIEVE that He loves us unconditionally, and to RECEIVE whatever it is He wills for our lives.
Our lives are not in our control but are meant to be lived for and from God in His wisdom and guidance.
What this means is that whatever season we find ourselves in, we can be asking God and ourselves some deeper questions. Lord, what are you showing me this season? How are you calling me to grow or change? What are you asking me to let go of, adopt, or embrace? What have I learned that I can remember the next time I find myself in this season?
I have to pause as I reflect knowing that some sufferings, some people’s long-standing seasons, are horrible and seemingly unimaginable to me.
I truly can’t comprehend some of the evil that exists, and I have little to say about it other than God’s goodness is truly a mystery.
I will say, however, that in my own exposure to some of the world’s suffering (take, for example, the poorest of the poor in Calcutta), I still have seen joy and redemption. I wish that all of the sufferings that exist had a clear purpose that I could comprehend.
They do not.
So, in the face of that reality, I do what I can and I hope in the eternal goodness of heaven.
At this time, we have entered into a new season. The first hints of fall have already revealed themselves. The bustle of the school year has brought about a new busyness that most of us have probably settled into.
I’m sure many are experiencing the greatest variety of seasons in their own hearts. No matter where you find yourself, be there with God. Bring Him into your current season and let Him order it, shape it, give purpose to it. Trust that He intends to draw meaning out of wherever He has you.
God wants to give you good gifts today. He is good, He loves you, and He wants your ultimate joy.
Wherever you may be, you likely won’t be there forever. So, whatever season you are in, you can trust that God has allowed it and that He is with you in it.