November 29. It is almost winter again! I am prepared!
Presently I live in a warmer climate, but where I am experiences the four seasons as where I was. Around September this year, I realized that it will begin to get chilly very shortly and I began to get really concerned. I had left all of my winter stuff in storage back where I migrated from. To be honest, I was more than concerned. I was becoming frantic in my mind because it was my intention to return and collect my winter duds before the temperature would begin to drop in both places. Granted, where I was coming from had harsher winters than where I had settled. So, the plan was to get back there before it really got uncomfortably cold for me, so that I would be prepared for a much milder winter here.
I returned and what I noticed is that, although it was colder than where I left, I was able to endure it. I was prepared mentally and physically for whatever the temperature would have been. A totally different scenario to last year when it was my first time experiencing minus zero temperatures, hail, storm and snow. But praise God, I survived and even thrived. I pushed through and made it to Spring, Summer, Fall/Autumn and now my second Winter.
Last year, I remember speaking with someone who had lived in that environment for many years, and they wanted to winter in a warmer climate. Ding! That gave me an idea. I was due to make half a century and made plans to celebrate it with my family and friends – in the islands. Yes! Warmth! Sun! Who wouldn’t want that! I would go down to celebrate and stay until winter was over. What a cop out! But how many of you know that God is something else. I called one of my sister-friends and was telling her about how uncomfortable I was and what I was planning to do. She didn’t tell me what to do but she said as gently as she does, ‘on your journey it is best to experience the full circle of the seasons’. She said, ‘if you don’t go through the winter, you will not be able to appreciate the spring and what it has to offer’.
I received what she said, pondered it in my heart and boarded the plane with enough clothes to last for 3 months anyway. I got to the USVI and one day I got into my sister’s car, turned on the radio and this song by Hillsong called Seasons came on the radio and I was floored. I don’t want to spoil the discovery for you by writing the lyrics here, so I’ll advise you to click on the word ‘Seasons’ above and listen for yourself. Suffice it to say, I broke down and began crying because I knew what I had to do. I had never heard the song before, so I knew in that moment that God was saying to me, ‘weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning’. In other words, winter may be uncomfortable right now, but spring is coming.
He is saying the same thing to you as you read this little love note. I know it’s hard right now. There seems to be no end to your discomfort, and you wonder if anybody cares. I’m here to tell you that, I care and most of all God cares. He created the seasons and they all have their purpose. Trust Him. He will carry you through.
Here are a few things I heard God said to tell you.
- Stop despising, cursing and minimizing your season. They may not all be God-created, but they are certainly God-ordained/allowed. (Sometimes we enter seasons because of decisions we made in a previous season.)
- Embrace the present. As difficult as it may seem, the quicker you surrender to the pressing and the refining process, the more fruitful your understanding will be. There is something to be learned from what you are going through. Ask God to show you.
- Prepare for the next season – especially spiritually. (Develop a relationship and prayer life with your Father that will sustain you in any season. Practice putting on your whole armour so that it becomes second nature every day)
- Pay It Forward. What you learn was not only for your benefit. Be quick and open to helping someone else. Not because you had a difficult adjustment/time means that everyone else should. My friends dispensed information such as what weight underclothes to buy for the colder months; what is black ice; and that I needed to take vitamin D during the winter because of diminished sunlight etc.
Additionally, this is what I’ve learned as I progressed through the seasons of my life and more so for the last 16 months. What you do not confront, work through, or pass, you are doomed to repeat/revisit. Some people are of the impression that if you don’t acknowledge something, it will go away eventually. I beg to differ because again, there came a time when I had to ‘sit a test’ that I had exempted myself from almost 30 years before. Seasons are cyclical. What you sow in one you will reap in the other. The converse is true. You don’t sow. You can’t reap.
So I was presented with this situation and I recognized it for what it was. I had seen it before and had failed miserably. This time I decided to face it head on. It involved me conversing with someone about a decision I had made, and I was a bit apprehensive because of their personality. But I knew that I had grown. Life had forced me to grow and that growth was reflected spiritually, mentally, and especially relationally where I was no longer as afraid to speak my heart on any matter.
I consulted God about timing and wording, presented myself for the test and I am happy to say that I passed with flying colors. I was now ready to move on to bigger and better and even more difficult circumstances, but I had growth on my side.
This is the benefit of ‘growing through’ your seasons. It might be a case of ‘which comes first – the chicken or the egg’ in terms of when you first realize that your life experiences are seasonal. But wherever you find yourself, recognize it for what it is.
Winters may be dreary, cold, wet and just uncomfortable and yet beautiful. It depends on your perspective. But what is true is that they force you to reevaluate your life and what is important. You have to be more conscious. You have to slow down. You tend to spend more time with the people whose company you value, such as close family or friends and therefore, your communication skills and coping skills are sharpened. Just like the plants, you shed the old and unnecessary to make room for the new and better – and that sometimes also means people.
Spring comes eventually, and literally it speaks of new life. Vegetation takes root and begin to grow having been dormant during the winter months. During the winter you had the time to reevaluate your life and now it’s time to put some of those resolutions into gear. You begin to shed the heavier clothes for lighter ones as you slowly warm up.
Summer brings unabashed warmth and the opportunity to just be fancy free and footloose. Sometimes being too loose to the point where if you are not careful you make decisions that can negatively affect your life for generations. So, in the summer it’s important to enjoy yourself, but you also need to keep in mind that the season will change. What you do in the summer should enhance or positively contribute to your life and not take away from it.
Fall/Autumn is a beautiful time. It’s not too hot and not too cold. The leaves begin to turn those orange, burgundy and gold colors we love to see, as plants and trees begin to grow dormant during this season. Crops are most likely planted between fall and winter and that timespan varies depending on geography, climate and weather conditions. In this season you know that summer is past, but you’ve harvested and have gathered what you need to go through the winter months. It’s in this season that you better be ready, or winter could be harsher for you than it is for others who would have taken steps to prepare.
My coming away from the islands and living in an environment where the seasons are distinct and separate periods of time and function, really brought home to me that we too experience seasons in our lives. It would be to our benefit to adopt this metaphor for life as the Bible says, “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22) and “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). There you have it! From the mouth of the Creator Himself.
Seasons are here to stay. They look differently for each individual, but we will all experience them. Let us stop. Be intentional about our lives. Let us remember that we are here today and may be gone tomorrow. The seeds that we sow, the lessons that we learn are paid forward whether we are conscious or not. Let us be guided accordingly. It makes for, not necessarily easier, but smoother seasonal transitions. Enjoy! Shalom!