This week, the boys went back to college.
After 4 weeks or so of living the old normal – all 5 of us in the same house, watching movies together, eating supper together, reading devotions and playing games together, sometimes fussing together – this week life returned to the new normal.
Quite honestly, the new normal isn’t all that bad, either. It’s me, the B99, and our daughter, Sydney. We still enjoy movies, we still eat together. There are still devotions and games and we still find ways to fuss about stuff. Now there are regular FaceTime calls with the boys, and seeing their faces on a screen – while not nearly as good as seeing their actual faces – does help me push the lump back down that still forms every time I walk past their room and see the made (translation: empty and unused) beds.
Now, you probably didn’t open this blog to read about my parental transition to the college years (although, if you’re a parent of a freshman this year, I bet you can relate!), so let’s talk about seasons.
It’s funny how seasons work, isn’t it? In the brutal heat of the summer, everyone wishes for the cold of winter until they get it, and then they wish for the heat of summer. Every season holds some good and some bad. Most seasons are bittersweet, and if we’re not careful, we can get stuck wishing for seasons that are gone instead of maximizing the season that we’re in or anticipating the seasons to come.
There’s an interesting story in a rarely read book of the Bible by the name of Ezra about transitions and seasons. The temple of God (which was a BIG deal in that time) had been destroyed, and when it was time to rebuild it, a lot of 20-somethings were put in charge of the project. When they got the foundation laid, they took a praise break and “gave a great shout” because the foundation had been laid.
But check out what was happening at the same time that the 20-somethings were shouting: “But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation.” (Ezra 3:12)
Transitions are tricky things. Saying goodbye to what was so you can say hello to what’s now can be hard to navigate. Most of us don’t like change, and so let me leave you with 3 insights that have helped and continue to help me when I find myself in the transition from one season to the next.
Learn from the past. Don’t live in it.
There’s so much wisdom in looking back to learn, but that wisdom fades if we look back too long. If it’s true that seasons come and seasons go (and it is), then a season going means that a season is coming, and what we just went through was intended to prepare us for what’s next. So learn as much as you can from what you’ve experienced, and carry that wisdom forward into the new season that’s coming. After all, the purpose of the past was to prepare you for the present and future.
Remember why you started.
I’m a pretty big football fan and the team I pull for has never won a Super Bowl. That means that not only do they enter every off-season without a trophy and with a lot of lessons to learn from previous seasons, but they also face the next season needing something to make the pain worth it. They need to remember why they started playing in the first place, and usually, the answer is simply for the love of the game. I’m a pastor, and when my church experiences a new season, one of the ways I transition is reminding myself that one thing never changes: people need Jesus, and there’s a fire in me to introduce them to Him. Remembering our purpose is critical when we find ourselves stepping into a new plan, place, or season.
Let God’s faithfulness in the past build your faith for the future.
Stepping into a new season is one of the hardest things to do, because every step into the new season is a step away from the old season, and there was a lot of good that happened in that old season. Even if there was more bad than good, more hard than pleasant, at least the old season was something known and familiar.
But familiar doesn’t require faith. The future does. So as you look back and learn, as you remember the passion that burned in you at the beginning, don’t forget to chronicle how faithful God has been in seasons of old. I can guarantee you that as you remember His faithfulness in past seasons, you’ll find yourself full of faith for future ones.