How to Navigate the Seasons of Life by Gary Roe, Hospice Brazos Valley Chaplain
Posted on 03/14/2017
HOW TO NAVIGATE THE SEASONS OF LIFE
Back in the last century, I lived in Hawaii for almost three years. It was wonderful. The climate was terrific. The pace of life was amazing. And the colors were so vivid you could hardly believe they were real.
In many ways, island life was paradise. Except for one thing.
I missed the seasons.
Winter, spring, summer, and fall. I missed the usual transitions and changes.
Spring is upon us. We can sense it in the air. We're on the verge of something new, and yet something familiar.
We've experienced spring before, but no two are exactly alike. This spring will be unique. All seasons are.
Life has seasons too. Things change. We grow, learn, and age. Economies fluctuate. Governments shift. Things emerge, morph, disappear, and sometimes re-emerge. Everything is in motion. The world marches on, one way or another.
We're constantly moving out of one season of life into another. Not all seasons are equal, and not all are pleasant.
Some are coming out of a delightful season into what seems like a foreboding one. Others are having the reverse experience. Some lives are so steady that one season seems much like the next. No matter how much or how little, however, all our lives are in flux. Each day brings new things, and the change builds up over time.
Seasonal changes require adjustments. Wearing a wool coat in 100-degree weather not only doesn't make sense, but might be a health hazard. Walking around in shorts with no shirt when the wind chill is in the teens isn't advisable either. In the same way, we naturally need to tune our lifestyle to best fit our current situation.
Here are three broad suggestions for navigating life’s seasons:
Let the previous season go
Some seasons are hard to let go of. We're having fun. Life is smooth. We feel in-sync with ourselves and the world around us. We would love for this to continue, forever.
Then, sure enough, things change. We resist the new unpleasantness. We often gripe, complain, and even choose to live in denial. "This is not happening. I don’t like this," we say.
Or perhaps we're having the opposite experience. We've been in a difficult, draining, or painful season. We can't wait for it to be over. We're ready to move on.
Painful events can jade us. Instead of leaning into what's coming, we dread what other disasters might be lurking around the corner. If we've been hit hard and often enough, our hearts can begin to shut down. Life becomes about going through the motions.
No matter what kind of season we're coming out of, it is behind us. We don't live there anymore. Today is new.
We need to intentionally release what's back there. Perhaps we need to forgive someone, or ourselves. Other times, we need to stop longing for what was and live more in the present. Whatever the case, we can learn from the what we've experienced and become better people because of what we've been through.
Enjoy the current season
"Live in the now."
I hear this statement frequently, and I've used it a lot (mainly when talking to myself!). Yes, we exist in the now, but our hearts and minds are often either focused on the past or the future. Living consciously in the present is challenging.
For me, experiencing the present begins with observation. My mind can be so full of the previous thing or how to deal with something down the road that I cease to even notice what's around me now.
Things change radically when I put myself in observation mode. I deliberately focus on "seeing" what's around me – nature, animals, and especially people.
We all long to be "seen.” Loving someone often begins with “seeing” them. When we love, our hearts get positive exercise. This bolsters our sense of contentment and increases our ability to live "in the now." In that moment, we are truly living in the present.
Prepare for the season ahead
Preparing for the future is prudent and wise. None of us, however, knows what's around the next bend. Almost anything can happen to anyone, any time. But we can still plan in a way that makes sense and fits who we are.
As you look down the road, what do you see? Is there a process you need to set in motion? Is there something you need to alter (or stop)? What decisions or practices would contribute toward your overall health and well-being (physical, mental-emotional, spiritual, relational, and financial)?
In our planning, we need to be careful of letting fear drive us. Instead, we can allow things like faith, hope, and love be our guide. It's hard to go wrong if we focus on these things, no matter what happens in the future.
Putting it all together
Life moves, and we must move with it.
Remember the past while being careful not to live there. Reminisce, learn, forgive, and release. Learn to live more in the present by observing, listening, and serving. Plan for what you can with as much wisdom as you can muster. Let faith, hope, and love rule more of your heart than ever before.
Your next season may not be the most pleasant one, but it can still be good. It might be your best ever.
Gary Roe is an award-winning, bestselling author, chaplain, and grief specialist with Hospice Brazos Valley. Visit him at www.garyroe.com or contact him at 979-821-2266 or firstname.lastname@example.org .