If you take a look at the environment around you, you’ll discover evidence of the season you are in. Here, the trees are beginning to shed their golden leaves, strewn this way and that by the winds of change. Crisp mornings are slowly creeping their way in and many mornings are clouded in fog. The moist air that sometimes carries a frosty bite, also carries the scent of rich earth, cedar, and pine. And rain. Lots of rain. The exchange has begun.
It’s a season in which we exchange the long, carefree, sunny days of summer for the shorter, more structured and scheduled, cold and rainy ones. We fit our beds with flannel sheets and cozy blankets and our feet with warm socks. We bring out the coats, the mittens, rubber boots and scarves and pack away the shorts, the tanks and sandals which are no longer needed. We use this season to winterize our wardrobes and our homes.
From the very beginning, our world was structured and ordered around time and seasons as part of God’s design. Life is not only lived from moment to moment and from day to day, week to week, and month to month. It’s also experienced in seasons. Without seasons, we know that any form of life on this planet would be consumed by extremes; either scorching insatiable heat or bitter numbing cold. No form of life could be sustained in such a formidable environment.
Seasons come and go without any effort on our part. They are a natural part of life we all experience. And it’s our choice how we respond to them. There’ve been many times in my life when I thought I’d never make it through a difficult season… and I did. There were also times I wanted a smooth-sailing season to never end. But it did.
Over time, I’ve begun to develop a greater sense of awareness not only to the changing of seasons in the natural environment around me, but also in my personal and spiritual life. I’ve discovered that understanding your seasons while choosing not be defined by them, is a valuable key to unlocking the perseverance needed not to give up or get stuck in a difficult one. It empowers you with the endurance needed in order to stay stronger longer.
E N D U R A N C E > > STRONGER LONGER
Seasons change. They come. They go. And sometimes, the transition is so subtle you barely notice it at first. Other times, a season may have been so hard and seemed to go on for so long that you feel you can’t possibly bear to go on. In those times, it’s important to remind yourself that even your toughest season will not be the end of you… if you learn how to respond to what it wants to produce in you. When you grab ahold of this truth, you’ll find a new strength and assurance that will keep even your toughest seasons from stopping you or sucking the life out of you. You’ll realize that it’s your toughest seasons that you have the ability to grow you the most… if you’ll let them.
EMBRACE THE BEAUTY OF YOUR SEASON
In years past, I dreaded and even resisted this time of year when we’d exchange summer for fall and the long rains would return. But this year I’m ready. I’ve come to realize that there is a beauty about this season. And in every season, for that matter. You just have to know where to look. And know that it’s ultimately the rhythm of our seasons and how we yield to what they require of us that will position us for endurance.
Each season has its own natural flow and when we don’t heed the wisdom of working with the seasons, we’ll pay the price of working against them; sheer exhaustion, discouragement, and possibly even exasperation and disheartenment of those we influence. The value of your season is determined not only by your ability to ascertain what lessons you need to extract from it, but also by your ability to exert effort into what is expected of you. Sometimes we don’t move beyond our current season because we haven’t allowed it to accomplished in us what is needed in order to run its course.
Speaking of running, when I complete 5-8 mile long outdoor runs, I’ve noticed that I have an increased ability to endure longer distances when the course of my run isn’t just one long straightaway. Or a seemingly going-nowhere run on the treadmill. It greatly helps to have a turn every so often in each leg of the course. With each leg comes a different set of scenery, each unique. Setting my focus on completing each smaller goal, each leg of my journey, makes the distance seem more doable for some reason.
For some reason, if I were to run the same distance as a straightaway or on the treadmill instead of in the course of 2-4 legs of twists and turns, the distance seems unendurable. The time seems to drag on and on without my ability to divide it up between short-legged distances.
There’s just something about seeing that turn up ahead that gives me courage and hope to keep going and not give up; an intentional focus that supplies strength to my struggle that with each leg completed, I’m one step closer to my finish line. For some reason, knowing that one leg is completed stirs in me a fresh stamina and gives me the perseverance to keep pressing on toward the next leg… and eventually the finish.
Seasons are much like the legs of the years in our journey. With each leg I complete, my focus builds, my confidence builds… I think to myself, “if I can just round that corner, I know I can keep going.” When I’m tired and it feels like I just can’t go another step, I remember my commitment. To make it around the next corner. And the corners build and round to help me finish well.
Endurance is not developed overnight or through one season. Endurance is a tricky thing to learn because it’s developed over being faithful through multiple seasons. And usually they’re difficult ones. They’re hard. They are the ones that tempt you to give up or quit. On more than one occasion.
And if, like me, you hope to make any kind of impact with your God-given influence, you’re going to need to learn how to function well regardless of what season you are in, to pace yourself and to live your greatest potential in every season.
Next week, I’ll be sharing some key ways in which I believe knowing your season will help you pull out the stops and stick with it in the long haul. For today, take some time to note and embrace the beauty around you and within you. Each season has a beauty all its own. Whether it’s the warmth of a newfound friendship, a new perspective or fresh strength, a rock-solid word of encouragement on a rough and wearisome day, or a glimmer of hope in the beauty of a sunrise that seemed just for you… What hidden beauty have you discovered in your toughest seasons?