March 6, 2023
This time each year is fun and enjoyable for me for a number of reasons. First, we are coming out of winter and moving into the spring. Spring is one of the elements that makes me love living in Ohio!
Another reason I love this season is because of basketball. Whether it’s high school or college, tournament games are going on. These are exciting, big, and constant. These are tournaments where the loser goes home. The games are filled with emotion, stress, anxiety, excitement, joy, grief—you name it. It touches them all.
I have already been to a number of high school games this year where I have watched young men cry because they know that this season of life is over. It didn’t end the way they had hoped. For some, they will never be part of another organized basketball team, an experience in life that brought so much joy and excitement.
I remember when it happened to me, both in high school and college—it was so different from anything I had previously experienced. It felt strange and disappointing, like I wasn’t ready for this yet, yet there was nothing I could do to keep it going. I had all of these emotions raging and wasn’t sure what to do with them.
It reminds me that the seasons of life do come to an end. It may be a relationship. It may be a job, a career, a death, a move. The season may be ending because of our own choice, the choice of another, or it may simply be life. The one thing that is true about each one of them is that how we process a season that has come to an end is critical, actually crucial personally, as well as to our future.
I have come to realize that most people do not handle nor process well a season of life coming to an end. For way too many, it paralyzes them and causes them to get stuck. I believe the most common reason is that we do not grieve properly over the season coming to an end, and do not choose to be grateful for what happened in that season, even though it will not continue. These reactions are robbers of our future, and impact how we relate to God and others.
The temptation for everyone confronting unpleasant thoughts is to run away, to get back to a comfortable, familiar zone. But we must face our grief directly and experience it fully. It is scary, but mindfulness can help one survive grief. “Being mindful is about being fully present, aware and awake moment by moment” (Grief-Healing-Support.com notes). “Paying attention with mindful contemplation to each experience and situation without resistance, without judgment, without analyzing and without reacting. Moment-to-moment awareness is being fully awake in this moment right now.”
When we don’t live in the moment, choose mindfulness, and grieve purposefully, it is likely we will always feel a nagging sense that something is not finished; something is undone. We will live with a sense of incompleteness. By completely experiencing even life’s most difficult events to the fullest, even something as dark and difficult as grief, each of us can move forward and feel completed and satisfied about the emotional progress and steps we have taken.
People who are happy, positive, and well-adjusted have learned how to accept and transition to their next season. Otherwise we will spend enormous amounts of emotional energy trying to hang on to the old season. Because it is impossible to keep the season from changing, trying to change it will lead to depression, anger, anxiety, unresolved grief, regret, pride, shame; just to name a few of the possible consequences.
Acceptance of reality is what makes reality easier to accept. Truly. When reality smacks us in the face, we don’t do well unless there has been a prior understanding and acceptance of the process of life. We know there is a process of human growth and development. Over time we develop physically, mentally, socially, and physically. Even Jesus—God in the flesh—went through this process (Luke 2:52). Seasons such as this are part of the divine design. Solomon said, “To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). He goes on to describe a few seasons.
Solomon tells us that seasons are a normal part of the cycle of life. Often one season is opposite from the previous one. Rarely is life just a straight line of things getting better and better. It is more like a roller coaster of ups and downs, positives and negatives. Many of us are afraid to enjoy the good times because we worry about when the “other shoe” will drop and the bad times start. The secret of making successful transitions from one season to the next is to learn contentment (Philippians 4:11, 1 Timothy 6:6). Whatever the situation, we can be content because we trust in the sovereignty of a loving God who is working all things for our eventual good (Romans 8:28, 29). What we don’t understand as having any good in it will one day show that God was with us and working in ways we could never understand.
Give yourself a foot up by not expecting to stay in any season forever. When our children were young, some days seemed really long—especially for Patty, I am sure. But as they grew, the years flew by. Suddenly they were grown, and we were in a new season. We’re still working through all those emotions, even though we know it was good. It was still hard, or bittersweet, as we often say.
Has a season in your life ended, and you are struggling adjusting to the new one? Some we don’t want to end, and some we wish would never happen. But whatever the season, remember none of them last forever. They may last longer than we want, but it will end. Death will eventually end every season. Eternity is the only season that lasts forever. This is why Christians always have hope. We have Jesus with us in all these seasons here, and then we have forever in the unimaginable beauty of the season where He is the light!