The tree is up and the house is decorated…’tis the season.
The Christmas music has played nonstop in the car and house….’tis the season.
The Target parking lot was mobbed yesterday…’tis the season.
The gifts are bought and nearly all wrapped….’tis the season.
Multiple batches of holiday Chex Mix have been made and passed out….’tis the season.
School is out for break and all those little Kindergarten germs caught up with me….’tis the season.
The house has been exceptionally quiet these past few days…’tis the season for this, too.
It hasn’t always been this way for me just before Christmas- quiet, calm, lonely. I was reminded of this lately, as I’ve been checking my Facebook status memories of Decembers past. Here are just a few excerpts:
December 17, 2009: “Fading on 4.5 hours of sleep. Must get some caffeine soon to make it through the Christmas program.”
December 23, 2010: “Enjoying a pizza/movie night in our jammies…I love my family!”
December 15, 2011: “The next time I schedule making parent gifts, baking gingerbread cookies, making ornaments, directing a Christmas program, working 11 hours and making a birthday pie for my husband all on 5 1/2 hours of sleep, please stage an intervention for me.”
December 17, 2014: “Being gone for 14 hours at school wouldn’t be so bad if it meant coming home and sitting down. Must. Keep. Going.”
December 23, 2016: Two people shared a video of Craig Aven singing, “The Sweetest Gift”, because they knew I was struggling through the first Christmas without my son.
These were just a few different memories from different seasons of my life: the busy working wife and mom of two small kids. The single mom trying to do it all. The grieving mom. There were seasons of joy, pride, stress, and even pain. I’ll admit that some of those seasons fill me with a longing for what used to be. But some of those seasons I look back on with relief that I’m not there anymore. And that is a gracious reminder to me that seasons, whether joyful or painful or stressful or mundane, are temporary. Whether it’s cold and flu season, football season, or the Christmas season, there is a beginning and an end to each one. They don’t last forever.
King Solomon so eloquently describes the various seasons in Ecclesiastes 3:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
We can read these words, maybe hum a little bit of the familiar Beetles’ tune, and go on our merry way, thinking we really get it. But do we? Sure, we know there are different times in our lives – good and bad. But that’s not what Solomon was getting at. According to one commentary, these verses show “that we live in a world of changes, that the several events of time, and conditions of human life, are vastly different from one another, and yet occur promiscuously, and we are continually passing and repassing between them…that every change concerning us, with the time and season of it, is unalterably fixed and determined by a supreme power; and we must take things as they come; for it is not in our power to change what is appointed for us.” God has determined the course of our seasons, and as much as I would like to be in control and decide when certain seasons begin or end or how long they should last, that is up to God. Not me.
However, what is up to me is my attitude during these seasons, and what I’ve learned from them. As I look back at those harried seasons, trying to do it all, I wished that I had valued relationships over my to-do list. I would have appreciated those busy years more, instead of wishing for time to myself. A season of busyness may come around again, but I now know that not everything is urgent. Taking a break and relaxing is necessary. In those seasons of loss and grief, God has taught me the value of being vulnerable and letting friends come alongside me to encourage me. I pray that in other people’s seasons of grief, I can be a voice of encouragement and support to them.
I don’t know what season you find yourself in today. Perhaps you are incredibly busy, juggling a million different plates, and trying not to drop a single one. If so, rejoice in the fact that your life is full and you are not lonely. If you are lonely, use the time God has given you to reflect and develop your relationship with Him. If you are grieving, know that not every day will be as hard as this one – your sadness will never completely go away, but the severity of it will lessen with time. If you are overwhelmed by the circumstances of your life, know that you have a God that will carry you through until this season ends. And it WILL end.
But even more important, know that through every changing season, from beginning to end, we have a God who is constant. Constantly loving. Constantly providing. Constantly faithful. Constantly sovereign. And Immanuel – constantly with us.
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). ~ Matthew 1:23