I was born in New England and have lived here all of my life minus six months. I'm no stranger to seasons; I've seen 208 of them pass by me so far, and am hoping to see a few more. The seasons in New England are extreme. Winter is cold and snow laden, while summer is hot and sometimes unbearably muggy. Spring is fresh and rejuvenating with hope, while fall darkens the mood with the grim reminder that winter approaches. Again.
I can't help but believe that these seasonal extremes in this Northeast corner of the U.S. affect us New Englanders; we do have a reputation, don't we? The winters cause us to be withdrawn, cool, and reserved, while the hot summers draw out of us our crankiness and sometimes overly honest opinions.
But is it surprising, or hard to believe that the seasons of our life also affect us? We all go through them; the job change, marriage, our children's weddings, divorce, the death of a loved one. We gain. We lose. We experience the seasons. Times of gathering and times of scattering visit each one of us. But how do we navigate through these changes, through these swells of life?
I recently came to a realization, call it a delayed epiphany. Last year, over the course of just six months, my son moved out to join an internship, one of my daughters got married, my grandmother of 103 passed away, and one of my other daughters moved out and joined an internship as well. Several months later, I sat puzzled, wondering why I found myself surrounded by odd feelings of emptiness and confusion; swirling around me like cream stirred in a morning cup of coffee. That's when the delayed epiphany hit me.
I was in a season of loss.
Like winter, it was cold. The days were short and the night fell quickly and without mercy. The windows were shut and I ventured outside only when necessary. Sometimes our seasons affect us more than we know. So how do we navigate these changes? How do we pass through them while staying healthy and on course?
I would love to give you seven steps to enjoying the seasons of your life. But I can't do that, because honestly, sometimes it is simply difficult. Sometimes the mugginess won't relent. Sometimes the rains don't come to cool the air. Sometimes spring seems to come too late and leave too early. Seasons are seasons and you can't control them. But you can get through them.
God has promised that He would never leave us, never forsake us. He has promised grace enough to carry us through each season. And this hope, like an anchor, holds our souls like a boat on the raging storms. With the rising and falling swells of our emotions, His grace is abundant. He stands in the boat with us. We simply need to call out to him like His disciples did from the middle of the storm 2000 years ago. He heard their cry.
And when our storm has passed and the sun begins to shine through the parting clouds, we can boast in one thing, that in our weakness, His strength came through and carried us sufficiently. Then we will know His grace was enough.