For the past few weeks, a blanket of white snow has been covering the ground where we live. Typically, during the first snowfall of the year, I would go out with my camera and take some photos to mark the occasion. When you live in the Midwest, snow is just part of the deal, so you might as well enjoy it.
But not this year. I’ve been annoyed with the snow. I have barely been outside for several weeks. When I look out the window, I just want to close the curtains. I don’t want to take any photos. I don’t want to celebrate the beauty.
This year is different because it’s not the season for snow! We had our first big snowstorm the last week of October while the trees were still covered in leaves, and it’s grown colder ever since. Instead of getting to rake brightly colored leaves into piles, we’ve had to stomp our way through snow. The mums on our front porch are frozen and dead. The pumpkins are covered in white.
As if our six-months of winter wasn’t already long enough, the cold season got greedy and rushed in. It cut its way into line and butted ahead of fall. And I haven’t been happy about it. I feel like I got robbed of the beauty of autumn. The scent of fall leaves. The constant flavor of pumpkin everything.
We’ve been talking about seasons a lot at our house lately. We’ve had some really amazing seasons of life. Friday was our anniversary, so we were telling our kids about the season when we were newly married and could run away on the weekends to go ride mountain bike trails in Wisconsin. We went on vacations with just the two of us. We went out to dinner and watched movies.
We loved the season when our kids were little. We had lots of friends who also had young kids. We got together on the weekends for fun family outings with tons of kids running through the house.
We’ve had great seasons with our jobs and with our family and with our church.
Lately, we’ve been struggling through a harder season. Our church has always been a big part of our family’s life, and a lot has changed the past year. We’ve realized that change is difficult. All of the people involved are doing everything they can to create a smooth transition. But change, by its very nature, can feel like an unwelcome winter pouring snow on a beautiful autumn.
It’s made us realize that for about the last decade, we’ve been in a very comfortable season. It was filled with friends and relationships. Our kids were very involved in youth group and serving at the church. My husband and I volunteered in a lot of ways. And since I worked at the church, it was the center of my spiritual life, work life and social life.
Sure, it wasn’t perfect. But looking back, it felt like a warm October afternoon.
My husband and I have a tradition on our anniversary that we go off together for the day on an adventure. We love being outdoors and spending time in nature, so our adventures usually involve taking photos of wildlife or going for a hike. It’s been frigidly cold this week, so I wasn’t sure what we were going to do this year.
When we got up Friday morning, the forecast called for a high of 39 degrees and sunshine. After a week in the teens, that sounded WARM! We dug out our boots, gloves and hats and headed out to hike at Starved Rock State Park.
In some ways, I didn’t want to enjoy it. Like I said, I’m MAD at the snow. We should be kicking leaves on the path and breathing in the scents of autumn. But how often do you get to see fall and winter combined into one season? I decided I should just embrace it. Enjoy the unique beauty of this seasonal collision.
It ended up being a gorgeous day. We saw frozen waterfalls and icy water covered in freshly fallen leaves. I’ve never seen so many colorful leaves on top of a blanket of white snow. The contrast was actually pretty. At times, it was hard for our brains to process the scene of trees full of green leaves overlooking a path covered in snow.
But instead of hating it, we decided to embrace it.
It reminded me that sometimes I have to do that with my seasons of life. Sometimes winter decides to dump snow on my perfect picture of fall. It makes me want to stay in bed and pull the blankets over my head and just hope that when I re-emerge everything will be back to normal. We’ll be able to rake the leaves again and make big piles and jump in them on a sunny November day.
I want to go back to the autumn that I never had, but it’s not possible.
When it comes to this season for our family, we’ve realized that we were super comfortable with the way things were. For some reason, we needed to be stretched and pushed. We don’t know why or even how to react at times. Just like the snow in October, sometimes we feel annoyed and long for a season that we loved.
It’s hit me especially hard lately. We are more than six months in with the changes at our church, so I guess I thought at this point, I would have settled in and adapted to what’s new. Instead, I’m faced with the reality that I’m not going to like everything about this season. I can’t go back, and yet it’s been hard to move forward.
It’s been pushing me closer to God as I realize none of this is about me or my comfort. I have to depend on God to show me how to engage in what’s next. I’ve talked so much this year about being “brave.” I’ve learned that brave doesn’t mean digging deep and finding my inner strength. I’m accepting that being brave means fully trusting Him. It means being willing to do things that are difficult.
I can close my curtains and pretend the ground isn’t covered in snow. Or I can put on my boots and hike across icy paths doing my best to embrace the unique challenge and beauty of this season.
What about you? Are you in a mixed-up season of life? Are you embracing it or hoping it will go away?