The Thing About Seasons

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Here's the thing about seasons. Sometimes they're wonderful... and sometimes they're not.

I love talking about the seasons of my past that were full of joy... Like when I felt God whisper his purpose for my life into my heart six years ago, when I crossed the stage at my college graduation, or when I quit my 9-5 job with an abusive boss and launched my own business.

But the hard seasons? Those ones are harder to talk about.

Maybe it's because hard seasons aren't pretty. In fact, they're pretty messy. Most of us like keeping our emotions in a box tied up neatly with a bow, and hard seasons shake that box up so much it looks like it was dropped out of a plane and later washed up on the island from Castaway. We like feeling put together and hard seasons feel like chaos.

Maybe it's because we're afraid to show our weakness. Many of us had to rise up against the odds when we started our businesses, chose to pursue our dreams, or made a life change that shocked our family. We've had to be strong and fight hard to get where we are, and we're scared that showing any crack in our armor leaves us vulnerable to ridicule or shame.

Maybe it's because we don't know how to process deep pain. It's easy to slap on a bandage when we feel hurt, but what if the injury goes deeper? Some of us try to walk it off and keep things light, but that only make the sprain worse over time. We're afraid to grieve because there isn't a formula for doing it right and we know it will hurt, so we'd rather not grieve at all.

Do any of those reasons for avoiding pain ring true to your heart? I have personally struggled with each one.

Something I've noticed though, is that embracing the hard seasons in life often leads me to a greater understanding of the love God has for me and a deeper intimacy with him than I experience during the easy seasons.

Don't get me wrong... I often go into hard seasons kicking and screaming, begging God to rescue me from the desert I'm in and to return to my side.

But when I stop thrashing around and get still and quiet, I feel him right next to me. I realize he never left me even when I thought I must have been abandoned. In fact, he's often the only one left sitting with me in the silence as I grieve.

All that hard stuff is where the tender stuff flourishes. It's like good soil rich and ready for the Farmer to sow. The seeds of our relationship blossom in the quiet conversations and in every secret hurt I share. And I scoot nearer to his heart as he draws nearer still to me.

If I open my heart to processing the hard stuff I'm going through without judging it, denying it, or trying to rush through it... if I truly honor it... not only is it a lot easier to abide with him and heal slowly yet well, but I always come out of that season stronger than before. No, it won't have been easy. But the deep intimacy and deeper trust of God that I gain as a result of walking through the trial are worth it.

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

"I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me back against the Rock of Ages." -Charles Spurgeon

God will take our brokenness and make it beautiful if we let him.

All we have to do is be still, let down the walls of our hearts, and open our hands.