I feel duped by nature.
Just when I thought I had things under control, I feel blindsided by a reality that somehow slipped passed me:
seasons are cyclical.
Growing up in Florida gave me a fairytale view of Winter, consisting of warm cookies on cold days, pretty scarves, and Christmas day snowfalls. Autumn was a once a year feeling of 60-degree mornings, surely stolen by sunshine in the early afternoon. Spring was what we called autumn days that happened after Christmas, and Summer was every other waking moment.
I studied for exams on the beach in December. I wore sundresses and shorts and flip-flops year round. I owned boots, but rarely ever had a valid chance to wear them.
still my heart longed for seasons in a way that would validate my sometimes-weary heart. Although Summer seemed perpetual around me with the Atlantic just across the street, the seasons were surely changing within me.
My heart felt Winter when a dear family friend lost his battle with cancer months after his eighteenth birthday. Winter came again my first year post-grad when I worked an office job and realized I hated high heels, 9-6, and sitting alone behind my desk while my heart longed desperately for ministry. Winter came and taught me deeply, and I made myself believe I had learned all that Winter had to offer.
After enduring what I considered to be the coldest Winter of my life, Spring came again and it was lovely. I danced in fields of wildflowers and got sunburnt on the beach. Summer followed Spring, as it always does, and I delighted in every moment. I reflected on Winter, thanked Yahweh for the frost, and dug my heels deep into the warm seasons that followed.
But though I withstood that deep, dark Winter, patting myself on the back for surviving and moving on, I forgot that seasons were cyclical. I forgot that Winter would someday come again in my heart and life.
Moving to Dallas and taking a full-time position in ministry left me feeling quite comfortable in Summer. Things were new and fresh and I was feeling more free than ever before. Nothing was further from my mind than the thought of Winter.
But somewhere in the sunshine of moving to a town full of new adventures, Winter snuck in uninvited. A ministry team became me working by myself. Brainstorming sessions and staff meetings were left with my name alone on the attendee list. Event planning, weekly meetings, and overall administration came under my sphere of responsibility. Still barely able to navigate myself around town without my GPS, I was thrown headlong into a season I did not want, and was not ready for.
And that’s the thing about seasons: they don’t work on your time frame.
They don’t come and go when you want them to, or when you think you’re ready. Sometimes you’re thrown recklessly into a season of winter with one brief phone call, or after a marathon conversation that leaves you suddenly, and regrettably, single.
Sometimes Winter lasts longer than you would prefer. You could spend weeks and weeks longing for Spring to come, only for a blizzard to shock you in April. Seasons don’t honor our schedules or desires. They come uninvited and leave only when Yahweh deems it time for change.
And that might be the very best thing about seasons: they always come and they always go.
The sun shines in Alaska and South Florida still gets frost warnings every now and again. Winter will never stop showing up this side of heaven, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Spring will never, ever cease to follow. In the glory of sunflowers and Texas blue bonnets, the snow will melt and your heart will heal again.
In the midst of pain and confusion, hold tight to the promise of restoration. Let Winter heal your heart as it heals the earth and prepares for Spring. And just as Winter will never stop surrendering to Spring, so Yahweh will never stop fighting for your wholeness.
And in the midst of Summer celebrations with water slides and fresh lemonade, thank Jesus for the gift of carefree, giggly days. Recognize that this season is special and hard days will come again. Store the memories of these weekends on the lake knowing that they will be balm to your wintery heart.