Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Embracing Seasons

The acceptance of seasons is tightly related to our ability to live in the moment.

Holding on Too Tight

I used to believe, that every relationship, every friendship, was worth fighting for. I thought my commitment to people was one of the best things about me. I still believe this true, but I wonder if some times I try too hard because I worry what a lost relationship could say about me. Was I not lovable enough for someone to stick around? Could I fix it if I just tried harder?

Oh, thank you Father, I’ve learned this year, that the loss of a relationship doesn’t mean that I’ve some how failed or that I’m some how unworthy of love. As I’ve seen people come in and out of my life this year, I’ve realized some relationships are only meant for a season.

The Value of a Season

Each person God brings into our lives impacts us differently. They may bless us, challenge us, or give us a chance to love or grow. We should embrace this no matter how short the season, not fear it. Some relationships are not meant to last more than a few encounters. That’s ok. So much can we give and receive in short periods of time. I’m surely not saying to take friendship lightly, but be thankful for each person, in each moment, and don’t take losses too hard.

I’ve been home just over a month. Most of my friends in London have been reduced to infrequent Facebook notes. Even those with whom I felt most close have gone on with their lives. One even confessed that it’s just too much effort to keep in touch. In all fairness, I’ve moved on too. And I expected this to happen. Though, as I value these people and these relationships, I’d hoped it wouldn’t happen so quickly. I’m trying not to take it so hard, but it hurts a little.

When I first felt the “drift”, I went to God with a heavy heart. Was it worth it? I’d opened up my heart to these people. Maybe “being in the moment” was silly and only brought more hurt.

God gently responded: “Oh child, it wasn’t a waste. I brought these people to you and you to them. You blessed these people for a time and they filled you up. You talked about me. And they helped you in hard times and supported you so you could grow. It was all worth it. It was everything it was meant to be, because you embraced it. But yes, now its time for you to move on, for them to move on. This chapter may be finished, but the book is still being written in all your lives. If I still have a purpose for you in each other’s lives, distance, even lack of talking, won’t ruin it. But if I don’t, you need to let go, and just keep opening your heart to the others I put before you. Stay in the moment. I’ll guide you, moment by moment.”

All I could say through tears was “wow”. How my Father loves me and gives me amazing experiences… and puts in my life amazing people, even if just for a short time.

Fighting Seasons – Don’t!

How often we fail to really engage in people’s lives or let them into ours, because we’re afraid we might lose them. People move, get busy, journey in and out of relationships and priorities, even die. If we shut down, we won’t hurt as much when they leave. But oh… how much we’ll miss out, while they’re still here. I’d rather love big for a season than be cold inside.

I’ve also found that holding on too tightly to people only meant to be a season, cannot only prolong pain, but it can de-rail or at least delay all God has for me in my next season. The same is true for far more than just relationships. If we’re to move out of a job, a town, a church, an activity, but we refuse, we’re missing God’s next great thing for us. It may be difficult, and it can take some time to mourn, but we must do it. We must accept this change and even embrace it. So often I’ve found it hard to let go, excruciating even, only to find that the next thing was far sweeter. We must just say our goodbyes, cry if we must, and move on.

But the adverse is also true. There may be times when God is holding us in relationships, situations, circumstances, jobs, life status (such as singleness), for a very good reason. He still has work for us to do or something to teach us. We should not be so eager to move on to the next thing. We may not be ready for that next thing or it may not be ready for us. In rushing to that next thing, we may miss some amazing moments we’ll never be able to get back. We must trust in God’s love, God’s timing, and take full advantage of whatever season he wants us in NOW.

What Scripture Says

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Solomon was so very wise. If only we could be so wise, and move moment to moment fluidly.

Everything has a season. Some seasons are grand; others are hard. But they’re all valuable.

“What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.” Ecclesiastes 3:9-14

I know that last passage is a bit odd and confusing… but the point is this: God wants us to live vibrantly in the season we are in. Do the work when it’s required. God will make everything beautiful in its time. (I love that verse!). And then when its time, relax and celebrate. Everything has a purpose and the greatest of all, is to help us see God himself.

Father God, I thank and praise you for my time in London, for each person I met. I thank you especially for a few specific people, Brits and Americans, who made my year what it was. Even if it was only for a season, I will not stop praising you for them… for how I was able to encourage and stretch them… and how they encouraged and stretched me.

I thank you that you make everything beautiful in its time, relationships, activities, and even our work. You have great plans for us and I will not cease praising you for that, even when It’s hard, even when I have to wait. Give us the strength to embrace each season with enthusiasm. Give us discernment to know when to stay and fight and when to move on. Help us to see your face wherever you have us. AMEN.

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