One of the strangest happenings I had to acclimate myself to living in Colorado is the intense weather swings. Top of the hour brings the hot sunshine, then give it all of about 10 minutes and Mother Nature could decide to stick you on the adventure of the day by giving you rain, then hail, then snow, then more sunshine all in about an hour, if that. And what’s even more bizarre is that I could be sitting at work with the bright sunshine, and my roommate who is two and half miles away could be sitting in a hail storm.
Same day. Same time. Similar location. Yet it’s sometimes like we’re in different seasons.
We experience our day-to-day the same way too. We do this thing called life with those around us, sometimes striding in the same step and other times weathering a completely different storm.
For most of our lives, we grow up experiencing the same things as those around us and those closest to us. We start kindergarten with all the other kindergarteners. We start driving around the same time as all of our classmates. We go to college around the same time as those we graduated with. We graduate in a similar timeframe from those we started going to college with.
And then we step out of the prescribed rhythm and into a world where the “right way” looks many different ways, where life starts to pull us all in different directions. It gives us a new beat to step to, a new air to breathe, and a new fire to burn. All of a sudden my seasons look different from your seasons. And what was always a synchronous, beautiful path to trek together quickly turns into a solo backpacking trip.
And the part that hits deeply, leaving a hole in the pit of my stomach is that it’s often the people I trekked so closely with for years redirect and have a different path to take. They’re high and I’m low. They go left and I go right. And then I wonder how I stay nimble, receive well, and give grace freely.
So what does it look like, this diverging of seasons?
They get married. He buys a house. She goes back to school for another degree. They move to another country. She takes the new job. They have a baby. He starts a new business.
Sometimes these things naturally bring us together. More often, though, they naturally pull us apart. Unless of course we fight for it. The real grit that life requires is that we choose to learn the art of embracing and celebrating the seasons of life happening around us, even if it’s not the sky we’re standing under.
But what I see happening too often is that we don’t celebrate the seasons well. And we don’t give people freedom to wholeheartedly pursue the path that was created uniquely for them. Instead, so many of us (myself included) try to get people to form to the mold that was once set and was forever followed. It’s understandable. It measurable. It’s safe. And we spend so much of our time keeping people anxious about stepping into what’s fully them and less time encouraging them to run to it with all they are.
Take for example, a common story to navigate for me and so many of my other sisters. As an unmarried woman in the church, my predicted future from those around me, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, is pretty well set for me. I don’t have to look too far to see it. I don’t have to tune my ears any differently to hear it. And I don’t have to dig deep to experience it. It says “sit in your holding pattern until you get married, don’t do anything too risky, get married, have kids, have the happy life.” And I’m not saying that’s wrong. In fact, parts of that are absolutely beautiful. It’s just simply not the right path for everyone.
So what happens when my life doesn’t look like the life my environment around me had set out before me? What does it feel like to stay nimble, receive well, and give grace freely facing when we don’t have a grid for the cadence of our people?
I can promise you one thing. It’s uncomfortable. When anyone takes a side step from the norm, it makes people uneasy and sometimes makes us feel awkward. But I wonder what our worlds would look like if we all decided to get comfortable with uncomfortable, to be okay with the season sitting across the dinner table is different than the one you’re weathering.
And isn’t that the beautiful part of this life? Isn’t the uniqueness in our seasons what makes our months and years pass seamlessly through each other? They make up the completeness of a year, making up the picture of community, the image of true life givers. Because seasons never stay around and they always change, it’s stunning, awe-striking that there’s always new growth and new scenery and a new freshness that comes with the changes of these days.
So here’s what I really wonder. I wonder what it would look like if we embraced this breaking of the mold open handedly and open heartedly. I wonder if we can give grace in the in-between spaces because our world would be a beautiful places if we were all in our lanes, on our paths. And I’m hopeful that we can be a people that live lives outside of formulas and outside of boxes. And I wish to be a tribe that can see what’s beautiful about that, because a world that celebrates well is a world that excels well.
What if we all walked confidently on our path ahead of us? Encouraged one another to run their race? And what if we all really good at celebrating differences in personality and in position? I think we would change the way we view our seasons and the seasons of those around us. They may change rapidly and they may not be the same, but it’s what makes us all special, part of the whole, each with a purpose and a position to take in the adventure of navigating the shifting weather ahead.