As a few days of spring warmth start breaking through the cold winter days and the calendar season starts to change, I’ve been thinking about my life in terms of seasons.
Maybe it’s because fewer of the major life milestones are left to come as I get older. And breaking my life into yearly boundaries doesn’t seem to fit either. But using the metaphor of seasons for different stages of my life feels just right.
The process of defining the season I’m currently living – naming and categorizing it – helps me get perspective. Although the duration and timing of life seasons don’t correspond to calendar seasons, I find it helpful to name them in those terms.
For me, each calendar season has its defining characteristics. Winter is all about rest, waiting, and recharging. Spring is new beginnings. Summer is growth, light, expansion. And fall is harvest and then letting go.
I’ve had winter life seasons when I’ve needed to focus on my health. These were stressful times of tests and procedures, waiting for results, and letting my body do the slow work of healing.
I’ve had spring seasons of new beginnings, like when I decided to go back to school to get my Master’s degree as a “mature adult.” These seasons bring uncertainty and anxiety that are inevitable when stretching out of my comfort zone.
I’ve had summer seasons that I never wanted to end. Times when things are easy, and I’m fully engaged in living my life and doing what I love.
And there have been the inevitable fall seasons when what I’ve been doing no longer works, and it’s time to let it go. Finishing my degree put me in a long fall season when I had to let go of my identity as a grad student and figure out what was next.
This metaphor of life seasons reminds me of two life truths that I tend to forget.
First, I can’t control the seasons. Seasons will change, and my life will evolve, no matter how hard I try to control it. I can’t force things if it’s not the right time. I may be restless and ready for a new beginning, but I usually need to go through a time of rest, recharge, investigation, and discernment before knowing what new thing to start.
The times I have denied that I’m in a winter season and forced myself to act in spring behaviors, I’ve ended up floundering and frustrated, trying one thing after another, and feeling increasingly desperate.
Second, a season doesn’t last forever. It’s important to acknowledge this in both the difficult and the good seasons. The darkness of winter is not everlasting. Even though this is hard to believe in the unrelenting, repeated darkness of those days, this season eventually ends. Correspondingly, the easy days of summer also do not last forever. Just because I’ve found a state of flow where things seem easy doesn’t mean that I’ve locked it in forever.
I can’t prolong the good seasons, and I can’t hurry the difficult ones. All I can do is savor the good times and try to accept the difficult times with minimal struggle and as much peace in my heart as I can have.
A Closing Prayer
God, give me the grace to accurately identify and understand each season of life. Grant me patience to live through each difficult season, finding moments of joy and peace where I can because I know that You are with me always. And grant me the wisdom to see when a season is starting to change and be brave enough to take steps towards whatever is my next right path. Amen.