Mindful Monday: Seasons in Our Lives

“Don’t be anxious about the future but live fully in whatever season you are in.” – Donna Dahlstrom

The senior pastor’s wife at my church, Donna Dahlstrom, doesn’t give talks from up in front too much.  She admittedly prefers to work more behind the scenes.  So I felt honored to hear her speak at a women’s tea back in 2015.   And she did a great job because some things she said really stuck with me, even years later!

The theme of the tea was “Strong Through The Seasons of Life.” The verse they chose for this theme was from Ecclesiastes 3:1, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”  Donna shared how our lives tend to cycle through seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. In regards to these life seasons, she also said this:

In Spring, a time of new beginnings, we should be curious.

In Summer, a time of fruitfulness and getting settled in, we should be faithful.

In Fall, a time of conclusions and endings, we should be accepting.

In Winter, a time to be rooted and gather nutrients, we should be patient.

These principles are so timeless and easy to remember that I tend to come back to them from time to time as I try to figure out what season I’m in with my life and how I should best approach it. However what I use the most from her talk was one sentence that stood out to me then and still has great significance in my life today.

You see, as a worrier by default, my ears perked up when Donna said this, “Don’t be anxious about the future but live fully in whatever season you are in.”  Wow–this was so what I needed (and still need) to hear in so many ways!  It is easy to look back on earlier, easier seasons of life and want those times back.  Or else to be dreading the next season in life as you either don’t feel you have the energy to start something new or as you grieve the ending of a fruitful time in some area.

However, as Donna pointed out, it is very important for us to “live fully in whatever season you are in.”  So what does this “living fully” look like in our lives?  I think it all ties back into what she shared about the ways of “being” in regards to all these different seasons.

At times we need to be curious about what doors are opening up around us.  We need to not pull back from these new opportunities and not shy away from making new discoveries about ourselves.  It is important at such times to remain open to the way our life is unfolding around us and live into this without pining for the past or worrying about the future.

Other times we need to remain faithful to where God has placed us for that season.  To recognize it for the time of fruitfulness it is and simply be grateful for this.  This is a time to just  settle in with open eyes to see what God is doing in and through us to bless those in our sphere of influence and to glorify Him.   To recognize this season for the gift that it is both to ourselves and to others as we reap a harvest that comes from our past openness to God’s guiding in our lives.

Sometimes though there are areas in our lives we can see coming to an end.  Instead of clinging to these with clenched hands, we can be accepting of life’s natural cycles and allow things to conclude well in these areas.  This season is often one of the hardest ones for me to “live fully” into because I tend to grieve these endings too much or second guess what I might have done to prevent them. Therefore, I can see the benefits of simply acknowledging where God has you in the moment instead of wishing it away.

Then there are the “winter seasons” in life which we can either see as a hopeless, barren time or else a time when God is allowing us to put down our roots deeper and gather nutrients for the next step in our journey with Him.  This mindshift can possibly be the one which is most necessary for me to make in my life.  To simply live into this season by allowing times of silence and solitude to process through the past seasons and prepare for future ones.   But to do so without wallowing in the past or worrying over the future.  To remain patient and rest in the knowledge that this season too will pass in God’s time. Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5 NKJV).

Donna’s talk also included Joshua 1:9 which is a very applicable way to end my post about this idea of living fully into each season:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”…and in whatever season you are currently in!

**I’m linking up with Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart today.  Click on the image below to find other great posts in the linkup too**

Five Minute Friday: Discover

The word for this week’s Five Minute Friday free-write is “discover.”  (Click on the image above to find some other great posts in the linkup too.) Here goes:

The more you get to know people (friends and family or merely just acquaintances), the more you discover about them.  The more you learn about their likes and dislikes, their little quirks, or whether or not they can be trusted with hard things in your life.   You find out how they tend to view the world around them and then how they process that information they’ve gathered.  Discovery – it simply comes with the territory of building relationship.

And so you discover both the good and the bad in those around you.  How do we process that?  How do we hold someone close who can build us up but sometimes can also say hurtful things (whether on purpose or without meaning to do so)?  What do we do with this weighty discovery that all people will eventually let us down from time to time?

And is it worth it? As we discover more and more about others and in the process let them into our lives and hearts more and more, does it make sense to continue on with them in the journey?  At times maybe yes and at times maybe no but here is what I’ve learned:

It is worth it! We are relational beings that need each other. Yes, as we make deeper and deeper connections with others we will be disappointed at times.  But at other times we will be humbled and honored by what we discover in those around us as well.

And discovering that good in others, just like coming upon a field of beautiful wildflowers while on a spring hike, will make the journey together rich and meaningful.  I also firmly believe that the more we search for the best in our relationships, the more we will find it.

So…what will you discover in those around you today?

A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17 NIV)