Friday, October 16, 2015

I Resist the Season in My Life

“Ever wonder why cars have the warning, ‘Objects in mirror are closer than they appear’ only on the passenger-side-view mirror? The mirror on the passenger side is convex while the mirror on the driver’s side is flat. . . . The passenger-side mirror provides a wider view of what is around us. The problem is that this broader image produced by the convex mirror makes objects look smaller than they actually are. Generally, when we see a person of average height who looks tiny, we assume the person is far away from us. That perception, however, is not true in the case of the passenger-side mirror. Even though a person or a car may appear small and far away it isn’t!”[1]


Car manufacturers remind us of the discrepancy we see in our passenger-side mirror with the sticker that reads, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” When we glance in that mirror we are reminded to adjust our perceptions based on the reality that the view in the mirror is distorted.


Relationships may fail because we do not understand that our thinking is connected to the life season in which we are living. Relationships can suffer or fail due to our inability to recognize the beginning, ending, or duration of the season in which we find ourselves. Misunderstandings, marriage trouble, hurt friendships, and missed connections can result when we fail to consider how our seasons are affecting us or those we love.


Perceptions may be out of touch with reality. Our view of life may be distorted because we have false assumptions about the way things are. Sometimes we believe that things can stay the same forever.


Our season in life will distort our perception. Author John Ortberg wrote, “We are all viewing ourselves in the fun house mirror. . . . That is why we are often stunned when someone else sees past our defenses into our souls. It is not that they are geniuses. It is just that I am sitting right in my blindspot.”[2]


Distorted perceptions can be related to the life stages of the children. I remember having car seats strapped into both of our cars. The entire back seat was occupied by our children’s car seats. I could not envision a time when I could use the backseat without moving a car seat out of the way. Those days are gone now.


I am sad when I look at the backseat of the car now. I do not find sippy cups rolling around under the seat. I no longer have the little mirror that I used to keep an eye on the kids on my dashboard. That season of my life is over! Bending over to unbuckle little children is no longer a part of my routine.


We will soon notice the leaves changing outside. Don’t you love the autumn season? The weather is excellent. It is my favorite season. I have a limited number of fall seasons to enjoy in my lifespan. Each year, I grow to appreciate the seasons more and more. I don’t want to miss the beauty of the seasons.


Changes in seasons occur in life. When we go through changes in seasons, we can become depressed. I talked to a family of empty nesters once. In rapid succession, their children moved off to college and career. The mother was in tears for months. The father hid from this reality by pursuing his career more diligently. Needless to say, it was a stressful time.


I have sat with many who have aging parents. One lady cried her eyes out as she told me that she was going to have to broach the subject of not driving to her elderly mother. The widow had gotten lost several times, and the daughter was fearful of what could happen. Another season in both of their lives had ended, and a new one was beginning.


Please understand my point. Your closest relationships can experience tension and turmoil because you fail to pause and think about the seasons of your lives together. Changes affect emotion. Changes impact our routines, patterns, and calendars. Changes may be related to our physical health. If we allow these changes to go by without serious consideration, we can be startled by the implications these changes have on our relationships.


God reminds us in Scripture about the seasons of life. The truly wise know that all their seasons are in God’s hand and that there is a right time for each season.


Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.


God made time to be filled with his plans.


Psalm 31:15a My times are in your hand.


We cannot control time. We use the seasons of time to fulfill God’s purpose. If we cannot accept that we do not have control over time, we will be hopelessly frustrated. If we trust the God of time and seasons, we will find joy and purpose.


God is in complete control of his world. God has made this incredible world so that events come and go on the right schedule—at God’s timing. This fallen world has downs as well as ups. Seasons come with joy. Seasons come with sorrow. How we respond to each season is crucial. We have the opportunity to grow and reflect God’s glory in each season we face.


Remember that God does an excellent job of marking time and making plans. Only God can be sovereign over this world. Nothing catches him by surprise. Not even a bird dies without God noticing.


Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.


We can be sure that nothing happens by accident. God does have a plan. God holds everything in his all-powerful hands. God’s plan reflects his infinite wisdom—the good we face and the challenges. We would be na├»ve to believe that we could live our lives without pain, sorrow, or trials. 


When we face a test that we do not understand,  we can trust God for guidance and direction.


Listen to the words of a wise king to his son:


Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.


When Carol and I were planning on adopting our first child, it was a time to seek. Our needs were great. We needed funding, direction, and help. The calling we felt to adopt a child kept us motivated, but the seeking was not easy.


We did experience moments when I thought that it was time to stop seeking and give up the adoption process. I am sure that I was raw emotionally. I know that I had anxiety and fear about whether adopting a child was possible. This was a challenging season for our family.


Although each of us have unique experiences in life, we all go through seasons. Most of us share common experiences and can learn from them.


Moving from my early adult years into the middle adult years has been a challenging season. I look at myself in the mirror, and I am reminded that I am not in my twenties anymore. I want to hold on to life as I knew it then. However, this is not reality. Aging is a reality. We can cover up the gray and buy more flattering clothes, but only God can rule over the seasons.


Daniel 2:21 He changes times and seasons;

    he removes kings and sets up kings;

he gives wisdom to the wise

    and knowledge to those who have understanding.


The wisest man except Jesus, King Solomon, said that life has its moments. We should recognize these moments and live in light of this reality. When we acknowledge how these seasons can impact our emotions, mind, and body, we are more prepared. Life’s moments affect our relationships.


Think about you and your spouse. You may be close in age, but going through different seasons. You may be in great health. Your spouse may be struggling with an illness. One may have an excellent job. The other may dread going to work. For one it is time to plant. For the other it is time to uproot.


The results of going through different seasons from those you love are many. You may become jealous of the other person. Misunderstandings happen easily when two people close to each other are going through different seasons in life.  Seasons can create a range of emotions that can bring stress upon the relationship: anger, grief, pain, frustration, envy, and disillusionment. Even joyous change can create pressure.


1. Consider the season you are going through right now. Remember, all seasons we go through give us opportunities to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Seasons in life have their plusses and minuses.  What is going on in your life right now? What has changed? What is new? Even if you feel like your much older, remember that God has particular feelings about that.


Psalm 92:12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree
    and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.


Psalm 92:14 They still bear fruit in old age;
    they are ever full of sap and green.

Becoming aware of ourselves is not easy. We are usually more self-centered than we are self-aware. To be self-aware, we must take the time to reflect and pray. To understand our own blessings and challenges, we need to think through our lives through the lens of Scripture. The Word of God is a mirror that helps us to understand who we are.
James 1:23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer,he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.
2. Accept the season you and your loved ones are experiencing. Some things we accept with joy. Other things, like poor health and death, we dread. Believe that God will use this season for his glory and purposes. When you find yourself struggling to accept the seasons you are facing, try these suggestions:
·         Remember God’s faithfulness in the previous seasons.
·         Talk to someone with a gift for encouraging others.
·         Notice someone who is going through a similar season well.
The key to dealing with the seasons of life is deciding to accept them. Live for this season in a way that prepares you for the one that will follow. Take care of yourself and those you love. Be alert to the present realities. Be willing to adapt to the changes.
What seasons are those closest to you going through? How can you be there for them and support them?

[1]Georgia Shaffer, Avoiding the 12 Relationship Mistakes Women Make, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2014), 45.
[2]John Ortbert, The Me I Want to Be (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 157.