Reframing Our “Seasons”
I am exceptional at getting in my own way 99% of the time.
Add this blog to the long list of things I have been asked to do where I have overthought, over-complicated and overworked Jesus right out of ‘em. It is astounding to me how quickly I run to hiding behind practically anything to avoid the truth I’m supposed to speak. Usually because the key audience who needs to hear it is me.
Cue the topic of “seasons”.
Summer. Fall. Winter. Spring.
The changing of seasons was set into motion long before my existence on this earth and yet I have no problem claiming that I get to be in whatever season I desire based off of what God is teaching me at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I love believing in the concept that my current circumstances are purely an extension of God’s newest lesson. It is so much easier to find a theme than work through a problem; especially a spiritual one.
For instance, I have been waiting 20 plus years to step into my “calling” as a women’s pastor. But why challenge myself to check my alignment with His will versus dub this time as a “season of waiting”? So much simpler. Plus, if I get to call the shots on what God is teaching me, I can sprinkle in some areas that I would love to see fixed on occasion. I am great at pointing out weaknesses to work on – just ask my husband.
As much as I’m joking, this is real life.
“Seasons” have been the Christian “YOLO” since the ‘90s.
I’m a big fan of any cultural trend that lends itself to making even the dumbest of my decisions look intentional, especially spiritually intentional. But because we’ve gotten so great at using it, I would say it is now expected of Jesus followers to properly identify what God is doing in their life on command. No big deal. Just tell me exactly what God is teaching you and why it seems to be taking so long. While you’re at it, if you could interpret my current circumstances as well, that would be great.
Leave it to us to find a new and improved way to take over His job.
I fully blame sin for screwing up such a unique gift. God invited Adam to name His handiwork one time and we’ve now taken it upon ourselves to name anything and everything under the sun – Feminists, Atheists, Vegans, Liberals and God forbid, Millennials. As a culture that prides itself on equality, we’ve sure done a terrific job of building new barriers while trying to break down the old ones.
Speaking of, let’s talk about the ever-time-consuming art of compartmentalizing.
Your girl is terrific at shoving things in boxes. Even as a kid, if I didn’t have time to clean my room, I’d throw everything in a box, so I could get back to watching Nickelodeon. It worked great until my mom found my stash one day. Not only did I have to finally sort through all my junk, I wasn’t allowed to watch TV for a week – like sorting through my mess wasn’t enough!
Old habits die hard. I wish my shoving problem stayed strictly toy-related, but after spending the last seven years post-college chasing a calling with no traction, I needed to find something to avoid feeling like a complete failure as a believer. Christian culture handed me the perfect spiritual box to shove years of painful failure in with one foul swoop.
I was just in a “season”.
What does that even mean? The name alone suggests that it was supposed to be momentary. At what point does something shift into becoming an actual problem that you have to deal with? To be honest with you, it wasn’t even until this year that God called me on my spiritual toy stash. Boy, did I wish that losing TV privileges was my only consequence at that moment.
But God is too good and too gracious to let us get away with thinking it is our job to make sense of our stories.
God’s Creation was already pretty much complete when Adam came along. Identifying it wasn’t a responsibility; it was an invitation. If we aren’t careful, we can so easily confuse the two. Satan loves this confusion. In fact, he preys on it. If we’re convinced that it’s our job to know what God is up to at all times, we can accidentally tie our success as believers to knowledge versus faith. If our only focus is understanding God instead of knowing Him, we’ve already lost the battle. It is too easy to feel like lack of answers reveal a lack of His presence in our lives.
And that, my friends, is the biggest lie of all.
That is why I struggle with this concept of “seasons”. Not because I don’t believe that we go through various ups and downs as believers, but because I fear that we get so caught up in trying to make sense of them that we lose perspective on the power of relationship. It is not my job to understand every why and how of those that I love. It would be crazy to tie my value as wife to knowing all the ins and outs of how my husband operates. Trust me, I’ve tried and failed many, many times. In fact, it is typically in my efforts to do so that I push him away the most.
Demanding a “why” and working through a “because” are two very different things.
I can’t tell you how often I’ve missed this in my time with God. All He asks is that I seek to know Him and be known by Him. The minute I start mistaking my role as needing to identify every move He makes and how to interpret it, I panic. Mainly because it’s impossible. When I’m faced with not knowing, I default to what I do know. I immediately turn to my seasonal boxes for support. That’s when things usually go from bad to worse. Because it’s not enough for me to shove things away on my own, but I want to involve as many people as possible to ensure that I’m doing it right.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t involve others in our spiritual journeys. But panic plus a plethora of opinion typically leads to more chaos. And at that point, I just find it easier to label it whatever works for the moment and call it a day. But it isn’t just a day, is it? It’s a “season”. I wonder if even labeling it as such prolongs its existence. I never thought my tendency was much of an issue until I realized how much compartmentalizing God’s handiwork kept me from fully experiencing it. Praise Jesus God can’t fit in a box, no matter how well-labeled it may be.
The best part is that when we relinquish the need to try, we bypass the enemy’s lie that we’ve failed.
I know how tempting it is to want to understand every significant amount of time that passes in your life, especially if something isn’t happening the way that we imagined it would. But I’ve recently experienced the freedom in relying on His understanding far above my own and I can’t encourage you enough to surrender to that peace. I don’t think it is wrong to try and partner God with what He is doing in your life. I think that is the goal. But speaking as someone who just spent a year unloading every box I’ve ever used to identify momentary shifts, save yourself the trouble of thinking that it is supposed to be that neat and clean.
God’s work is transformative.
It does best in brokenness. Brokenness is extremely messy. It doesn’t run on a man-made timeline, or even a Christianese version of it. I want to be open to the complexity of His refinement coming whenever and however it needs to, even when it lasts longer than desired. I had a moment last week where I realized that we are best used as shattered pitchers. The water has nowhere to go but out when it gets filled up!
Flow through me, Jesus, and radically reconcile every area of my heart and life as You do.
I want to be fully present in my circumstances. Sometimes I’ve spent so much time overthinking them, I’ve missed out on experiencing them entirely. Truthfully, this year has been hard. It has taken everything in me not to deem it as just another season. But trying to compartmentalize it out would do a major disservice to the restorative work God is doing. I think this one is way too big for a box. I guess that is the real power of removing “seasons” from your life. You stop over-analyzing it and actually start living it.
It is amazing what He can accomplish when that happens.
Kendra Vollstedt has a heart to see women connect and conquer through life together. She keeps it real for the sake of addressing the root issues that often stand in our way head-on. Her hope is that people will feel seen, heard and valued for who they are. That they will want to know Christ more through the Jesus they experience through her.