Many years ago, while talking to a friend, she said that our lives are made of many seasons. It changed my perspective on how to view my life. If going through hard times, I would remember those words, and know that every season is only for a certain period of time, and would come to an end. I knew a good season was on the horizon, and it helped.
As I am now a woman “of a certain age” (ahem), with many seasons on which to look back, and fewer on which to look forward. I find that a little disconcerting. I can hardly believe that the seasons to come are dwindling, and as I look at some people who are older yet than I, I must say I don’t like what I see.
I see people who are full of life’s wisdom, who have many experiences to share, yet they are not respected or esteemed. That breaks my heart, and I want to hear their stories, and know what they know. Yet the glimpse
I see others who have become curmudgeons: cranky, restless and hard to be around. That scares me, because I don’t want to become like them, yet I’m not sure I would recognize the circumstances that made them that way. I still want to know their stories—even if I am afraid to approach them and ask. I mean, seriously, who wants to be yelled at by someone sporting a walker and an oxygen tank?
My husband recently preached a message about moving from one season to another. The premise of the message is to move on with thanksgiving for the last season. Giving thanks for where you have been closes the door to having the circumstances of that season follow and haunt you and stifle you in the new season, and opens the door of the new season allowing you to take only the good from the last season. I like that; it makes sense.
I’ve seen things on the facebook that say “your past doesn’t define you”. I get what they are trying to say, although I disagree with the statement. In my opinion, your past most certainly does define you—it becomes part of who you are; a piece of the definition that is you. I think embracing that statement is negating all that you have learned from that season, no matter if it was horrific or marvelous. I know people will say that I’m not getting the meaning of the statement. I know it is supposed to mean that if you were in a bad situation in the past, if you made poor choices to put you in a bad place, or if you got there by no fault of your own, you shouldn’t all it to be a major influence of who you are meant to be. I do get it.
But, I also think the statement is too broad. In my past, I raised a family. To think that those years don’t “define” me is ludicrous. Of course they do! I am a mother and a grandmother. I am enormously proud of every one of my children and grands, and even of some others who we influenced along the way. I learned as much from the experiences of those years than I taught. Yes, I am defined by that. The same way I am defined by my years of city living and Catholic school, suburban living and public school, every job I’ve ever had, every choice, good or bad that I’ve ever made, every friendship, every family event, every experience. It all defines me.
I look at each person’s life as a giant jigsaw puzzle. Thousands of pieces, all somehow fit together. As the puzzle of our lives is built as we go from season to season, the image starts to emerge of who we are. The image is dark in some places, light and beautiful in others. Changing textures in a kaleidoscope view; every turn reveals another aspect of the prism that is who we are.
It does seem to make it all easier if we move from one season to the other with thanksgiving, taking the good and learning from the bad. Burn the bridge, but not the town, so to speak. And tell the stories. People need to hear where you have been and what you have learned along the way.
As I start to slide into the latter part of life I choose not to become a curmudgeon—I’m cranky enough without embracing a mean spirit! I just don’t have the energy to be mean. Who could be bothered? If, over the years the young’uns don’t want to hear my stories, I will tell them anyway. One day they will be glad I did.
I recognize that my life is now and has always been in God’s hands, not mine. I won’t become a reclusive old lady, but I will become a grand old dame! That is my choice. I will embrace the future seasons, thanking God for every past one. I will allow the puzzle pieces to fall into place. One day, the entire prism will come into focus, and the full picture of me will be revealed. On that day, I pray to hear God say “well done, good and faithful servant”.