We all know that the earth has seasons of weather and growth.
But have you ever noticed that your life has seasons too? Not just in the way that time passes, but in the way your energy comes and goes.
Spring, summer, fall, winter. Energy ups and downs.
I read something from Kris Vallotton recently that alludes to this idea, and it got me thinking about my own season, and how hard it can be to give myself permission to be truly present in each one, especially when it requires rest.
In our culture, Westerners, particularly Americans, seem almost addicted to the creativity and busyness of springtime.
Something new! Something fresh! Something different!
Taglines for ads are always “the latest new thing!” Fast food and processed food companies seem to be in a weekly race to the “best” new eating concept. “Best” being a relative term…
Root beer breakfast tarts. Unicorn rainbow coffee. Cheese puffs stuffed with macaroni.
It is possible to innovate too far.
With the exception of unicorn anything, maybe they should just stick to the original flavors. Plain old mac and cheese is a classic. Biscuits and gravy are fine just the way they are. Don’t need root beer on my biscuits.
Springtime is lovely. Innovation is fun. New things are exciting. Plowing stale earth and dropping in fresh seeds is good. It’s a beautiful time of year. But it doesn’t make sense to have springtime all the time.
To Everything There is a Season
How many times have I heard myself say those words? “Got to plow through today! So much to do, so little time! Working hard, keeping busy, plowing through!”
Sometimes that attitude is condemned by people who interpret “plowing through” as striving. In springtime, however, plowing is right on schedule.
But you can’t plow all the time.
If you plow and plant, and then keep plowing and planting over the same field in summer, the seed won’t have time to grow, and you will ruin what you planted earlier. If you plow a harvest too soon in the fall, you may get some of the crop, but not nearly the abundance you could have had if you waited for the season to come to its fullness. If you try to plow in winter when the ground is hard and ready for rest, you could break your plow and wear yourself out as you fight the elements. Frozen ground won’t welcome a seed.
Knowing your season is key.
In springtime, we plow, and plant, and plan for what is coming after all this sowing.
But it’s a temporary time, until next year at least.
After spring comes summer, a time of tending diligently to what has been planted. Time to weed, and water, and fertilize, and watch over the hard work of the planting. Summer is hard work in the heat, and it is less about dreaming and startups, and more about maintaining and guarding the hard work of spring.
Summer is about follow-through.
And fall is the harvest! Everyone wants to hear the words, “Your harvest is coming!” But your harvest comes after seasons of spring and summer. Harvest-time still takes work, but it’s the work of celebrating dreams manifesting from the spring.
And then comes winter.
Winter is about rest. After the hard year of plowing, planting, tending, and harvesting, the rhythm of the year makes room for rest. There is still work that has to be done in winter, and seeds still doing mysterious things under ground, but it is more about keeping the home fires burning and enjoying the nourishment that came from your garden. Eating well, resting, and getting things ready for the next planting season.
And as my friend Alice Briggs says, “In winter is when the roots grow deep, wide, and strong to support all that new growth come spring!”
As often as I hear myself say, “I’m plowing through!” I also hear myself say, “I’m hiding. I’m hibernating.”
Understand Your Season
In the Kris Vallotton blog post I mentioned above, he says, “It’s so important that we understand what season we’re in, or we will judge ourselves against the work that others are producing in very different seasons than ourselves.”
You can’t compare your winter to someone else’s spring. Their resting time will come, and so will your harvest and your new thing. If you get out of order because of someone else’s season, you could miss the benefit of God’s timing for your life.
I have a tendency to think my personal seasons should match the natural ones. Sometimes they do, but that is not always the case.
I also put pressure on myself to be in perfect balance all the time, plow in the morning, tend in the afternoon, hibernate at night.
But no other natural system works like that. I want to stay in balance and guard my Sabbath days during the week as much as possible. But there is a rhythm to life, to our years as well as our weeks. I’m learning to accept that, and to pay attention to my words as my spirit tells me what I need.
I have to listen to myself, my body, the words coming out of my mouth, feelings of fullness or depletion, to help me recognize my personal energy season.
Honoring our seasons with career, dreams, family, health, and all aspects of life can be make the difference in how successful we are over time.
Spring is glorious, beautiful fun. Winter sometimes can feel like a drag, especially if you are addicted to productivity. But even the best marathon runners and athletes schedule recovery months after big events. They know that scheduling recovery cycles will allow their bodies to achieve peak performance.
Rest makes room for a different kind of productivity. Most growth in children occurs while they sleep, and nearly all centenarians will credit sleep as at least part of their secret to a long life. The most healing in our bodies occurs while we sleep, and pregnant women need more sleep than others overall.
Miracles may begin in energy, but to grow, they also require peace and quiet and rest.
Part of being in any season is enjoying it while it lasts and fitting your activity to the season, while also planning for the next one. A favorite winter pastime of gardeners is browsing through seed catalogs, thinking about how they’ll use their energy when the spring season comes back around again.
And knowing that all the seasons will come back around, that each one is temporary, can help us enjoy and make the best use of every one as they pass.
Spring is about plowing, preparing the ground, and planting. Summer is about follow-through, even on the scorching hot days. Fall is about harvest. And winter is about rest.
No season will last forever. Learning to appreciate each one will help us maximize the time we’ve been given.
What season are you in right now? How can you honor your season and prepare for the next one? Knowing that this time is temporary, whether of working hard or of resting well, how can you make the most of the time God is giving you right now?
Father, we thank You for seasons. Thank You that You are the God of the Seed. And the Tending. And of the Harvest. And the God of Rest.
Give us discernment to see the season we are in and to walk in its rhythm.
I pray no condemnation for the time spent in plowing or in rest as we fit our plans to the time. I pray for the best possible use of time in our current season. Our culture is good at working hard. I pray we learn how to work smart. And I pray we learn how to truly rest, both in weekly Sabbaths and in our winter seasons.
Resting in You, Father. Trusting all things to come together in Your perfect time.