Friday, October 16, 2009

To Everything There Is a Season

This past Monday, it snowed most of the day. The trees were covered, and the college campus where I work looked like a winter wonderland. It made me want to hum Christmas carols. There's only one problem—it's mid-October. We're known to get snow around Halloween sometimes here in Minnesota, but according to the meteorologist, it's been 30 years since we've had this amount of snow this early in the year. It's supposed to be in the 50s or 60s right now, not the 30s or 40s. The leaves haven't even fully turned yet, and it was odd to see snow on top of green foliage. Right now, a part of me feels that I have been cheated out of my favorite season, a slight that's even worse considering that I live in a climate where we have to put up with five months of winter even in good years. What's more, I wasn't prepared for this cold snap—I didn't have enough sweaters or a coat that fits. Even when I went shopping I couldn't find everything I wanted because the stores aren't stocking some cold weather items yet. Everyone is complaining about the weather because we weren't ready for it, and we couldn't have predicted it a couple of weeks ago.

My life seems to have cycles much like the seasons. I expect my life to progress in a somewhat predictable way, but sometimes completely unexpected things happen. When they do, I sometimes feel angry about the unfairness of it all or I go into denial and try to pretend that things are how I want them to be. Those reactions don't really help me deal with the situation. Because I stopped being angry about the snow long enough to realize that it was beautiful, I was able to enjoy walking across campus and my resentment at missing out on fall eased a little. Likewise, because I accepted that snow really was coming at this absurdly early date, I was able to prepare myself by shopping for the clothes I need. If I hadn't taken action to deal with this seemingly ridiculous situation, I would be very cold right now. I find that being willing to adapt is a very important skill in my life. I have to be able to deal with whatever is thrown my way, even if it's not what I want right now.

We are all familiar with the saying 'to everything there is a season,' but we often want those seasons to be predictable. The seasons of our lives can be even more unpredictable than the weather, however. All kinds of things happen to us that we aren't ready for—we find ourselves in relationships we weren't expecting, we are called to do work we hadn't anticipated, and we sometimes move far away from where we thought we'd be. There are births and deaths and job changes, losses and gains of all kinds. Why should we expect to be able to predict the seasons? There is a time for everything, but it is not always the time we want or expect.

Each season, no matter when it comes, brings its own challenges and opportunities. When the snow came, I had a chance to walk through it with a content heart, laughing as the trees dumped splats of snow on my head. It's the same with the seasons of my life. When a time of mourning comes, I have a chance to use it to grow closer to God and to reach out to other people. When a time of loss comes, I have a chance to celebrate the blessings I do have. When a time of growth comes, I have a chance to appreciate what I'm gaining, even if I'm really tired. I don't want to waste these opportunities by being angry or stubborn about what season I think it should be. Sometimes I can't control the seasons of my life any more than I can control the weather, but I can learn to appreciate them nevertheless.

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