They are part of what I adore about my little spot on this planet. Autumn’s arrival in this corner of Virginia has ushered in crisp mornings and stunning views of the brightly colored Blue Ridge. Hopefully, within a couple months, winter will bring just one or two good snows, so we can grab some runs at our favorite sledding spot. And when the cold wind and dark days start to weary my soul, I can cling to the hope that Spring will come again around the middle of March, until summer slides into place. While I love lazy days by the pool, I often find myself in the midst of July craving the cool days of October.
That’s the way seasons are SUPPOSED to go, and often do, but if you’ve lived in Virginia even just a couple years, you’ve seen how often the weather doesn’t abide by it’s designated season. We can have a stretch of days in the 80’s in December, and frigid days in May. This sort of “off-season” weather reminds me of how seasons of life don’t often follow their expected patterns.
Life doesn’t have a predictable 3-month cycle, it rarely lines up with our expectations, and sometimes it appears as if one season will never end. For seemingly better or worse, but ultimately for BEST, this has been true in my experience.
Years ago, in the Summer of my 20’s, I never could have imagined the Winter of my 30’s that was coming. Nor could I fathom this surprisingly glorious “Spring” I’m now enjoying as I collide head-on with my 40’s. A decade of single-motherhood held many days that felt like it would “always [be] winter and never Christmas.” Yes, there were also stretches of days that were filled with warmth and blessing, a reprieve from the cold, but ultimately, it was a long season of HARD. And in the midst of the HARD, it was hard to remember any other season. Can anyone else relate?
Spring was coming. Not on my timeline, but at just the right time….in an incredibly unpredictable way.
And here we are. Autumn 2016.
The sweetness of being a newlywed again at 40 definitely didn’t fit into the “seasonal patterns” I envisioned in my life. Yet, BECAUSE this unpredicted season didn’t fit into my plan, I believe it’s even sweeter. The waiting during the years of winter have made spring’s blossoms more fragrant and precious. Those years that I could view as unfruitful and dormant actually prepared me to receive this new season with a special gratitude – not just for the joys that have arrived, but also for the new kind of HARD that has piggybacked along.
I think that’s part of what I’ve learned over this last decade – there’s nothing wrong when things are HARD.
There’s nothing WRONG when things are hard.
It’s ok. NORMAL. Natural.
It’s a season. A natural and necessary part of life’s intervals.
I suppose that’s another way to frame the “winters” we face…as intervals. Numerous studies have shown that interval training is a highly effective way to increase your speed and strength. It puts just the right amount of stress on your body for just the right period of time. You only work out REALLY hard for brief periods of time in between periods of rest. You stress your body to a level that couldn’t be sustained for an extended period of time, you “rest” for a little bit (think less intensity but you are definitely still EXERCISING!), then you do it all over again.
Hmmm…is this sounding familiar? I’m not sure life is just a box of chocolates. I think in reality it’s also one long workout – so that we can eat the chocolates sans guilt. Life’s HARD seasons are really just the intense intervals that are increasing our strength and stamina.
I have had to tell myself to STOP FIGHTING THE HARD on numerous occasions. It takes more work to fight against it, anyway. I need to remember that the HARD seasons are good for me, and they will not last forever. They don’t FEEL good for me, and they may FEEL never-ending. But a season of rest is coming – a season of recovery until the next challenging interval begins. And each interval will be just hard enough, just long enough to bring about real change and growth in my life.
This definitely isn’t rocket science, people, but I didn’t seem to learn this truth until recently. And I frequently need reminders.
What about you? What season are you in right now? What kind of “interval training” are you being taken through? Whatever it looks like, it won’t always be this HARD, there is a rest period coming. This interval will make you stronger, if you embrace this training, friends.
Don’t quit…however hard, or cold this season may feel. This time is being used to ultimately prepare you for what is yet to come.
Can’t wait to see you on November 12th!
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