As a mom of young children, I often hear other moms ahead of me in the parenting journey tell me, “it’s just a season.” It is meant as an encouragement and I appreciate it even though, in the moment, it sometimes feels a bit trite. I get that it’s a season, but you know, when that season lasts 5 years (or more), it’s hard. That’s a long season, people.
The past year, however, I’ve grown to embrace a different type of seasonal life. One that has less to do with the ages of my children. I believe we were all meant to live with seasonal shifts.
There are times when we are very productive and efficient. Times we we are outwardly accomplishing many things, building our lives up through relationships, working, living, and doing. And then there are times when we are in the dark of winter hibernating and living off what we created during our more productive times.
This has often frustrated me in the past. If I could accomplish x, y, and z, 2 months ago, why can’t I now? Of course, sometimes there are obvious reasons. You just had a baby, you moved, your daughter got sick, etc. But other times there is no glaringly obvious reason. But the creative juices are simply dormant. The energy is waning. The ability to produce and do is bogged down by the weight of life.
Is this wrong? Should we be equally productive year round, seasons not withstanding?
I’m coming to grips with the fact that, no, we do function best in seasons. Seasons of growth and change. Seasons of rest.
God gave us a weekly cycle that we would do well to acknowledge. We need a day of rest in our week to rest and refresh ourselves for the other six days of work.
God also gave us Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Each of those seasons bring with it varying degrees of productivity and rest.
Living a pedestrian life here in Scotland has given me a new appreciation for seasons. We’re coming out of the long winter of short daylight hours and long winter evenings. Even as the days get longer and the temperature warms (ever so slightly), we are beginning to be out more, even if it is simply the park with friends.
There were times in the winter that we didn’t do something simply because of the weather. This is somewhat foreign to our ever busy, frantic American lifestyle. Unless it is a major storm that will keep us snowed in, there is not much that will stop us. Life moves on whether it is the bitter cold of January or the blistering heat of August.
As I learned to adapt and adjust to the walking life, I have thought a lot about how relatively recent it is that we think we can keep the same calendar schedule no matter the season.
Before modern vehicles, life flowed in seasonal, cyclical patterns. On a relational level, winter nights were spent home by the fireside reading, playing games, (or popping popcorn in Laura Ingalls days!) and bonding with family, while the warmer temperatures of spring and summer encouraged gathering with friends in our community.
Our modern lifestyle allows us to call up a group of friends essentially no matter what the weather is outside. We may choose a coffee shop or a park depending on the weather, but get together we can. Nothing stops us except the most severe of weather.
Now that I walk everywhere I go, I realize this isn’t always possible. There are times when, yes, I have to say no I can’t do that because of the season. And I don’t mean my children’s ages, I mean the actual, physical season. An evening gathering in the winter when it is dark by 3 pm (yes, 3!) and I have to walk there and back? Probably not.
I can chafe at that, or I can embrace it. I’ve chosen to embrace it.
And even I as I learned to appreciate not being able to do things this past winter, I am learning to appreciate doing a little bit more now that our days are longer and the weather warms up.
I’m not suggesting we go back to the lifestyle of a hundred years ago. I’m very thankful for our modern conveniences, including that four-wheeled vehicle that I sometimes miss having these days.
What I am suggesting is that we would do well to honor the seasons in our life whether they be the literal outdoor seasons or the figurative life-stage seasons.
These seasonal cycles also effect our productivity. There are times when we are dormant, whether because of life circumstances or because of a need for a period of rest after a particularly busy season. There are other seasons when we may be accomplishing so much personally or professionally that our heads are nearly spinning.
This is good. Life is meant to be seasonal and cyclical.
Whether you are simply enjoying a day of rest each week, or a season of seemingly dormancy that lasts weeks or months, learn to appreciate it and not chafe under it.
Embrace the long, dark winter nights as well as the long days of sunlight that summer brings.
Each is a gift. Each also has its purpose.
Don’t try to cram the work of the lighter seasons into the days of the darker season. And that means both the literal seasons and the figurative seasons of life.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”