As I begin to write today, I notice that it’s the first official day of fall. Regardless of what the weather may be, the date is fixed on the calendar. The start of the fall season is not temperature-dependent, and it certainly doesn’t concern itself with premature pumpkin spice exposure.
Though we have four specific days on the calendar that declare the beginning of winter, spring, summer, and fall, we usually don’t feel the change of season until the weather begins to shift or until activities that we associate with a particular season start to take place.
We are a very time-bound people. Our lives started on a certain date and will end on another. We grow, develop, and mature over the years, experiencing the various seasons of life. I remember well the season of having small children, when I thought that things would never get easier. The sleepless nights, the diapers, and the feedings all felt like part of a season that would never end. Now, 15+ years later, I have a junior and a senior in high school, and I find myself wondering how the years passed by so quickly.
In everyone’s professional journey there are seasons as well. For most you start at the bottom and work your way up. You develop new skills and slowly master the challenges that once seemed overwhelming. Your season of apprenticeship will shift time and again, until you find that you are now the instructor for a fresh-faced newcomer.
There are, however, seasons that change very unexpectedly. Illness, death, divorce, and other crises can quickly force a shift to take place. The changes we don’t anticipate are usually the most difficult to adjust to. The added difficulty with unexpected season changes is that they appear to last much longer than most others. With nature’s seasons, if you don’t like one, you simply wait three months and another season takes its place. Forced changes in life’s seasons often mean lingering pain, uncertainty, and doubt.
I’ve been weathering some tumultuous professional season changes over the last few years. In fact, I’m one week away from starting my fourth new job in four years. In the fall of 2016, I left radio to work as the director of a nonprofit. Two years later, the funding had dried up and I then went to work for a foundation. This was my favorite job to date, and I would have been happy to continue in this role indefinitely. However, organizational changes meant an end to my position, and again I was on the hunt for a new job. So, come Monday, I will be a new employee once more.
I’m exceedingly thankful that I’ve not had to go without work for any length of time. Though I’ve had frequent career changes, I haven’t had to suffer through unemployment. It would’ve forced another very painful change, not just for me but for my entire family.
The older we get, the less quickly we seem to be able to acclimate to change. When you are a kid and cold weather hits, you put on a coat but still run out to play. In adulthood, we tend to gripe about the temperature, buy overpriced hot drinks, and long for the days of warm weather to return.
I want to have the adjustability of a child. Too cold? Run around anyway. Too hot? Run through the sprinklers. Your best friend moved away? Make a new one. I know that this is an overly simplistic approach to often highly complex issues in life, but aren’t we instructed to have a childlike faith?
Seasons are going to change, and there is no way to escape that fact. The question is, how do we adapt when it happens? I’ve often been brittle or unmovable in my thinking, which has led to tremendous stress and pressure. If I’d been able to have a childlike faith, simply knowing that God is good and His plans are better than my plans, I’d have saved myself many months of inner turmoil.
If your season of change is accompanied by great pain, I’m so sorry! I don’t want to minimize the ache of your heart. It matters. You matter. Allow yourself the time to mourn, but don’t let that space become your permanent residence. Please reach out for help if you find yourself thinking that the season of pain will never end.
When the signs of a new season finally begin to appear, let’s encourage each other with an eager expectation of good things to come. May we not dwell on what has passed or waste the time waiting for a better season to come. May we find delight in exploring the options of our current season, knowing that God is good and that we can rest in that simple truth.