It's the last day of school.
Every weekday morning during the school year I savor the sounds that waft through my sliding glass door from seven-thirty to eight o'clock. I love hearing the children gather in the massive school yard behind my house. I liken my fascination with this cheerful sound to watching goldfish swim aimlessly around in a large fish tank. It soothes me, engages me from a safe distance. I'm far enough away from the playground to prevent me from distinguishing the words being exchanged. I can't pick out hateful, bullying tones from gleeful, friendly ones. It all sounds like happy, whimsical and carefree chatter to me. Truly, it's music to my ears and singing to my heart.
During the summer months a handful of children will play in the playground sporadically throughout the days. But it won't be the same. I won't hear the entire school gather during that thirty minutes. I won't hear the faceless teacher blow her whistle. And I won't be privy to morning announcements or the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance as they sound over the loud speakers attached to the back of the building.
It will be quieter. School will be out.
I remember well the easily marked changing seasons during my growing up years, don't you? The beginning and ending of school, football season and softball season, marching season and concert season, summer vacations and Christmas break. They all marked distinguishable seasons in my well-ordered life. Band practices and trips marked my fall calendar. Piano recitals and softball practice marked the spring pages.
When my children were in school the seasons of my life continued to be marked by the events on their calendars. But now that they are grown, many of the seasonal markers have vanished from my radar. I don't automatically know when the first high school football game is, when little league registration opens, when spring break comes or when the last day of school arrives.
My year has more continuity.
But seasons still change, don't they?
Seasons of life change, too. Change doesn't just occur when the last school bell rings or the first football is kicked toward the opposite goal line. And seasons don't just come and go with spring's first green buds or autumn's colorful foliage.
Seasons shift and change and close and begin all through our lives...in myriad ways. We experience seasons in:
I always welcomed the change in seasons, the beginnings and endings, the shifting of time...when I was growing up. And even when I was raising my children and seasons and years were drifting by faster than I could buy my children's new school clothes or snap pictures of their trophy moments or plan their birthday parties or compile their scrapbooks...I easily went along for the speedy ride. I just enjoyed each moment and then let it fly away. Change, I knew, was part of the bargain, and there was no resisting it. Not if I wanted to experience joy and peace as a mother.
But those other seasons? Seasons in churchlife, ministry, family, friendships, health, marriage? Some of those have been difficult to adjust to. You don't always see those changes in season coming. You just look back one day and realize things changed somewhere along the way...you don't know quite where. And you weren't planning on them either. They weren't on the calendar. No one sent a reminder in the mail or posted a notice on a bulletin board.
How do you handle the changes in season? Not the shifts from winter to spring to summer to fall. Not even the expected changes of kids growing up. But how do you cope with the seasonal changes in relationships, health, ministry, marriage, careers and more? Do you enjoy them, savor them? Or do you resist and cling and dig in your heels...to no avail?
Today after the children filed into the big doors for the final time this school year, I listened to what I assume was the Principal's voice carry through the speakers and into my sliding glass door. She explained to the teachers something about report cards and then thanked the children for giving themselves to a wonderful school year. She finished with a cheerful, "Have a great summer!" She closed out the season.
Has God closed out a season in your life recently? Did you celebrate or resist?
If you've made it this far in this lengthy blog post, I'd like to briefly share a personal note with you.
God recently...over many recent months...closed out a season in a precious friendship I've shared with a dear woman. He didn't close the friendship. But He did change the season.
And I fought it. I resisted and dug in my heels...to no avail. Just because you keep your Christmas lights attached to your house doesn't mean the snow won't melt and the birds won't return. And taping each leaf to your maple trees won't keep them from turning orange in October and falling to the ground in November. Seasons change, whether you resist or not.
This change in my sweet friendship happened gradually, but it also came suddenly. It took me unaware. But over time, as I loosened my grip and softened my heart, God gently and soothingly spoke truth to me that I needed to hear. He created new things as He dug up the old. He shifted my gaze from what I had lost to what was on the horizon. He put to rest my anxieties and fears and stirred up new dreams and hopes and affections.
And finally, just in recent months, He has settled me. I have found myself in a new season, and I have learned to enjoy it. I have relaxed my shoulders, smiled at the future...and the present, let go of the past with deep gratitude and the fondest of memories, granted grace for any offense (even if it was only perceived and never intended to wound), and learned to love with a healthier, holier heart.
Whether this is the kiss of spring or the chill of winter, it doesn't matter. Seasons aren't necessarily good or bad. They are just necessary and right. God is the author of every season, you see. And He can be trusted.
This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Thy faithfulness.
Friend, if God has ushered you into a season of life with which you have wrestled...I feel your pain. I know the struggle intimately. But I'd like to suggest that you loosen your grip, soften your heart and draw close to the Author of your season. He means it for good in your life. He's still in control. He still loves you and has wonderful plans for your life. He's still there...right in the midst of your new season. Trust Him. You never know, these may be or lead to the best days of your life! I can say today that I have found great joy and peace in my new season. You can, too.
School's out. Enjoy your summer!
How do you loosen your grip as the seasons slip by and things change? What season or life change has been the hardest for you? We'd love to hear from you.