Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Life Seasons

When I was in highschool and also when the older girls were younger, I used to play baseball. I loved it, and looked forward to spring every year for that very reason. We lived in town, and our family schedule just revolved around practice, games and tournaments. On the nights we had games at what would be our normal dinner time, we either ate early, ate on the run, or ate after the game. The girls knew every diamond in the county, which ones had the best concession stands, which ones had playgrounds, and which ones were by the water. They had their favorites (and so did I) and they had the ones they'd groan about when they heard where that night's game would be. Its just what we did, during that time in my life and it was quite normal for us. This is now a different time in my life, and there is just no way (aside from the fact that I'm 15 years older) our family could accomodate such a routine. We have our own routine and a much different schedule. It's a different season.

In the last few weeks, we've been invited to four different conferences/concerts/events, and have had to decline all of those invitations. All of the events are 2+ hours away, and due to the present circumstances/schedules, it's just not a possibility for us to be able to pick up and attend such things, as much as we would dearly love to do that. In whining talking about this to a dear friend of mine recently, she reminded me that it's not our season to do that. Not just now. I liked the way she put that, because life does indeed come in different seasons, for different times.

In my sniveling conversation with my friend, I was once again reminded about what the Bible teaches us about being content in the circumstances that we're in. Paul said in Philippians 4:11 that he had learned in whatever state he was in, to be content. 1Tim. 6:6 says that godliness with contentment is great gain, and Heb 13:5 reminds us to be content with what we have. Its very clear in Scripture that being content, or being satisfied with where you are, what you have, and whatever is currently going on, is key to living a peaceful life. It's also very clear to me that for me, this is one of the hardest things I've had to learn, and am still learning.

Like anyone else I'm sure, my life has been filled with all sorts of ups and downs. While some folks manage to get through life with relatively few extreme events and lead what some might call a "charmed life", most of us have a story to tell. Most of us have things that have happened in our lives that might make the listener sit on the edge of their seat, just to find out what happened next. In general, life is just full of things like this. While the specific details of my life story might be different from the next person, the stories themselves are usually the same in content - events filled with great joy or success, coupled with events filled with deep despair and horrific details. Times or seasons of plenty, and then times of great need. It's very easy to be thankful and content when you're going through a time of plenty and great joy - it's when you head into a season of restriction or great need, or deep sorrow, that things tend to get a little sketchy.

In Philippians 4:11 Paul said that he had learned how to be content, no matter his situation. I've written on this before and I know many others have gone into much greater detail, so I'm not going to rewrite what's already been said, but I do think it's important to remember that the way way we learn things, is to experience them, and go through them. This is true of academic study, it's true of parenting, marriage, job skills, crafts, hobbies and just about any other area of life you can think of. You don't simply wake up one day knowing how to do something, and do it well. You have to expose yourself to it, work at it, practice it, and over time you learn it. Learning how to be content in hard times or even in times where you might find yourself wishing things were different, will only come by going through it, thanking God for it, and trusting in His providential plan for your life. Yes, that's much easier said than done, but the blessing comes in the doing, and the learning comes that way too.

So it is not my season to pick up and attend conferences, go on vacations or take trips for other reasons. In the grand scheme of things, even though I momentarily grumbled about it, I must say it has to fall in the "big whoop-dee-doo" category. This is my season of doing exactly what I am doing, and when I really take a closer look at just what that is, I am content with that. I am grateful that I am where I am, that I can do what I do, and that He has put me here. In a year, my situation might be different - it might be more exciting, or it might be much worse. I've lived through some very dark times and know full well that life is ripe for those times as well as the good times.

I was glad to be reminded to be grateful for the season you're in. I appreciate those perspective reminders, because oddly enough with all that I've already been through, I still forget sometimes.