Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day 6 - Enjoy the Season(even in longest winter)

I love to garden.  I love digging my fingers in dirt.  I love the smell of wet soil. I love choosing what colors and textures of plants will look good together.  I love seeing a beautiful flowerbed or collections of pots, with plants spilling over the edge, come together like a delicious meal.  I love to garden with someone and I love to garden alone. (My husband loved to garden because he said God spoke to him clearly and showed him many truths about life through metaphors in the garden.) I love the sound of the pebble paths connecting garden spaces under my feet.  I love to prune. I love roses…. all kinds. I love peonies, hydrangeas, herbs, Louisiana irises, Shasta daisies, English aster, wisteria, and Carolina jasmine, confederate jasmine… I love to dead head spent blooms.  I love looking at a bedding area that has been freshly mulched.  I even love to weed! (With my trusty knee pad though, of course)  I love what each season brings.  

In spring, I love the colors that are available, watching plants come back to life, observing the new growth, the process of trying something new in the garden and enjoying the beauty of the outdoors. In the summer, I love the time of sitting back a bit and enjoying the fruit of my spring labors, eating all of the seasonal fruits and vegetables, and the never-ending time of weeding!  I love how the fall ushers in a feeling of a fresh start just like the spring.  I love fall cleaning in the garden, the change of colors from bright to warmer shades, crunching my feet in dry leaves, planting mums, decorating with pumpkins, and the smell of cinnamon and cider in the air.  I love the starkness of the winter in the garden.  I love being able to see the horizon through the tall skeletons of the trees.  I love how the trees look majestic with absolutely nothing adorning them.  I love how everything still looks beautiful with the bare minimum.  I love dreaming about what I will do the next spring!

How tiresome, though, it would be, even though I love each season, if there was only spring, or only summer?  “As long as the earth remains, there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.” Genesis 2:22

We need seasons of change.  

Understanding, accepting, working, and enjoying the changing seasons of life are not as easy as it is with the seasons in the garden.  How I wish it were so!  Why is it so difficult to embrace each season of life?  Why can’t it happen as easily as I embrace the seasons in the garden? Some seasons in our lives would get tiresome just like they would in the garden…can you imagine changing poopy diapers your whole life?  Being young and foolish your whole life?  Carpooling your whole life?   Working out the kinks of being a newlywed your whole life?  Thank you, Lord, that these seasons change!  There is a purpose to every season and one season cannot fully be appreciated without the season that precedes it.  “There is a time (a small space of time) for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is a purpose for every season.  There are certain seasons, that while we are in the “heat” of them, we cannot see the purpose.  The death season, the grief season, the mourning season, the crying season, the tearing down season, the quiet season, the lonely season, the wandering season…(My husband had a t-shirt that said, “Not everyone who wanders is lost”.  Wandering is a season, just like it was for the Israelites.)  As seasons change in order for plants to grow, we grow from the changing seasons in our lives.

I have been in winter for a while now.  It has been cold and stark, and there were even long, dark nights, with very short times of sunshine in the days.  I have longed for the spring, for the life season, the dancing season, the laughing season, and the building up season.  In March, I finally felt the beginning of the seasons of change.  I made it through the  “the midnight hours” and I finally began to see and feel the warmth of the sun on my face.  The changes of seasons are usually gradual, in the garden and in our lives, but, occasionally, they can happen suddenly, almost like an interruption.

I experienced a seasonal change suddenly, like a cold snap that kills all of your spring plants, an ice storm causing you to lose power, a debilitating blizzard in the middle of the night that causes all of life to come to a stand still, a hail storm the size of golf balls on a summer day that shatters the windows of your car, a flash flood that washes away seeds you spent hours planting. Like one can force flower bulbs to begin to grow, in what appears to be out of season, we can also be forced into a season of dormancy.  What we do in, and with, each season matters.  Rick Warren suggests that there are four questions to ask in order to make the most of each season: What can I learn in this season, What can I enjoy in the season, What is most important in this season, and How can I help others in this season?  

The first question,"What can I learn in this season?", I naturally attacked during the last two years since Michael died.  I sought God, prayed, and continually looked for all that I could learn from what had happened and learn from all of the different seasons in which I had suddenly found myself.  Looking back, the hardest of these questions to answer was (and still can be), what can I enjoy in this season and how can I help others.  I did not, could not, think about how I could proactively help others, with the exception of helping my children cope.  I tried to meet them where they were, meet their needs, answer their questions, love them, kiss them, hug them, and make the necessary connections with other people whom I felt God could use in their lives during that season.   I blogged in order to seek out what I could learn from that season, and in so doing, helped others who were grieving, walking in a similar season, or trying to understand my season.  The question with which I struggle, and honestly have struggled with even before this past season, is what can I enjoy in this season of my life.

In Ecclesiastes 11:8, it says, “People ought to enjoy every day of their lives,” and in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; this is God’s will for you.”  Really?  Why did these scriptures have to be put in the bible?  Why could they have not specified particular seasons for these to be true?  Like, this season, keep your head in a hole, this season play outside, this season shut your door and don’t come out until the storm is over.  Paul has to go and blow it for all of us by saying in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Whatever the season)  Paul was a prisoner, ship wrecked, had death threats, experienced starvation, physical beatings, alienation, and the list goes on and on and on… and yet, he can say, “count it all joy”?  He kept his eyes straight ahead on the road before him and his purpose.

We can’t keep thinking, “I will be happy when…” or “I will enjoy my life when…”.   We are all guilty of this in every season of our lives and then, ironically, when the season is over, we wish we were back in a particular season.  There is something to enjoy in each season, we just have to look for it.  When we find it, we must give attention to it.  The bible would not command us to “enjoy every day of our lives” if God was not simultaneously providing something for us to enjoy in every season.  I want to enjoy my days.  I desire it and there are countless other scriptures to support the reason and need for it.  

Father, forgive me for not enjoying life more, before and after Michael’s death.  I want to be an example for my children.  Help me to not look back but to press forward towards all of the life that you have ahead of us.  Press towards my purpose, and enjoy the journey, enjoy the season.  Because it is Your will for me to enjoy my days and to give thanks in all circumstances, I will press on. And by your grace and the work of Christ, I, like Paul, can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.   

Enjoy your season; enjoy this day in your life…with eyes straight ahead.

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