I fully believe that our lives are made up of seasons.
I don't just mean the seasons of Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer, no, I mean the seasons of life - of being a child, then a teen, then a young adult, and on as we grow. The season of life when one is single is very different from the season of life when one is partnered. We have seasons of life when work comes first as our ambition drives us and we have seasons of life where our family comes first instead. No one lives their whole life in just one season.
No one would ever want to live their life in just one season. Fall (or Autumn as I need to learn to say here in the UK) is my absolute favorite season of the year. Yet even as much as I love it (which is a lot) I would never want to live in a perpetual fall. Part of what makes the season so enjoyable is that it is a change from what came before and that it is fleeting, all the more to be enjoyed in the moment.
My outlook on the seasons of life comes from scripture, from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 to be precise.
Here we are told, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace."
I use this scripture in almost every funeral sermon I preach because I think it is just so poignant. It allows me to frame the story of someone's life through the seasons they lived, to walk people through those seasons and appreciate them, and to name the fact that we are all now beginning a new season without this person whom we have loved.
The seasons of our lives will constantly change.
When I announced my resignation from Friendship Haven in December of 2016 (three years ago this Thursday, in fact) I talked about how Joel and I felt the seasons of our lives were beginning to change. We felt that soon would be the time to pluck up what had been planted and to move on with our lives in a way that would take us to live abroad for a while. It then took us about 18 months, until the beginning of July of 2018, to build up enough momentum, plans, and savings to leave the United States but we finally did and we have now spent the last 18 months traveling the world.
This season of travel has been incredibly rewarding. We have seen more of the world than we ever thought possible. We have made life-long friends, gathered countless precious memories, and grown exponentially both as individuals and as a couple. We would not trade this time, this season, for anything in the world.
And yet. We find ourselves ready for it to end.
We find ourselves eager for our next season to begin.
When we first started this blog, in January of 2017, I wrote a lot about dreams. The second post I ever wrote talked about what is a dream job versus a dream life. In the seventh post, I wrote how the movie LaLa Land made me realize that I didn't know what my dream was for my life.
Now, almost three years and a whole lot of blog posts later, I think I finally know what that is. At least, I know what my dream is for the next season of my life. I am called to return to ministry, to live somewhere in the UK and to serve in the British Methodist Church. This call has been affirmed by my home denomination, by the Methodist Church here, and it is in the process of happening.
But it feels like it is happening ever so slowly. I was approved in July. At the time, I told the people who interviewed me that I was ready, willing, and able to begin ministry at any time. Their normal process wouldn't have me start until 1 September 2020, which feels like an unbearably long way away. For the last few months talks have been happening that might have me starting at least a temporary position much sooner. Things have continued to progress and it looks like something will happen soon but it still isn't 100% certain which is why I can't share any details yet (sorry to be such a tease!)
But that's also why I feel so stuck right now. Since August I have had the song "Waiting for My Real Life to Begin" by Colin Hay running in my head on a loop. If you have never heard it before be sure to click that link and go listen to it. It's a beautiful song and it captures ever so perfectly everything I am feeling right now.
Yes, I know, I should appreciate where I am right now, living what, for many, would be a dream life (and was for me for a long time!) I should appreciate the season I am in rather than just sit in anticipation of the next one. Believe me, I can preach that sermon (and have.) But it's so hard to actually do! To put a twist on the quote from When Harry Met Sally - when you know what you want for the rest of your life you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.
Last week, we took a leap of faith.
When we started this housesit here in Wales we did not have a set end date. The homeowners were flexible about when they needed to return and we didn't know yet if I would have a ministry position starting soon or not. We still don't have an official start date for me but we do now have an end date for this housesit - December 27th.
It's possible that we could move from here, into church provided housing, and I could start my job shortly thereafter. It's also possible that the housing won't be ready, my work visa won't have processed yet, or the whole thing could fall through entirely.
That's a lot of uncertainty for me. And it's making me highly anxious. I'm trying to still my mind, notice and appreciate where I am, and not live in too much anticipation of what might be next. I'm spending more time in prayer and trying not to just make it a one-sided plea of "Please, God give me what I want," but also to pray, "God, let not my will but your will be done." Let me tell you, it's a lot easier to say that prayer than to mean it, but I am working on it.
Perhaps this is just a season of transition.
I feel like our season of traveling is done. We are both exhausted physically, mentallly, and emotionally from the toll of travel - from the stress of mishaps that leave us stranded overnight to the small but growing pain of not having anywhere in the world to really call our own. Again, we are grateful for the experiences we have had, we are grateful for where we are now and the sweet, loving dog we are caring for in a comfortable home, and we wouldn't trade any of the last 18 months for the world. But I think now we are in a season not of travel but of transition - transition to what the next season of our life will look like.
Transitions are hard. Transitions can be painful. In transitions, you lose some things even while you are gaining others. Transitions can be a time of chaos. I want to skip this time of transition and just get to the next season already. But that's not how it works. You can't get from one season to another without transitions. This is like that time of year when Mother Nature can't quite decide what season it is so you get below zero, above 70, snow, and warm spring rains all in the same weekend. Messy. Chaotic. Life.
Seasons. They come and go and they are the small things that make up our very big lives.
I hope you can see the season of life you are in and do your best to live it well. If you don't like the season you are in, know that it will come to an end. If you love the season you are in, know that it will come to an end.
Until then, I'll be here, checking the horizon, waiting for my real life to begin.