Friday, June 25, 2010

Celebrating the Seasons

It was "Stripe Test" day in my Martial Arts class. I had gone to the morning class, tested, and received my yellow belt. I also attended the evening class, where, after the stripes were awarded, the instructor asked us to "take a knee" before he handed out the belts.

He began to tell a story about "seasons". At the word, I switched into "Yes-God-I'm-listening" mode. That's not to say that I kicked back and took it all in. No, more often, it's like a mini wrestling match inside of me.

One part wants to run - far, far away. "La, la, la.... I can't HEAR you!"

Another focuses in on the concepts being presented and reminds the part that wants to run that this IS applicable. "We've BEEN through Seasons.... It's GOOD, remember?"

Yet another notices whats going on with my body itself. "oh! Heart paused at that word. Now it's racing. Breathe! don't forget to breathe! Yeah, that lump in your throat.... pretty sure it's gonna be there for a bit...."

And the whole while, there is the undercurrent of the Gentle Voice Within saying "Listen. Pay attention. This is important. Listen. Pay attention. This is important. Listen...."

And somehow, through all of that, the message sticks.

"We all experience seasons." I think back through a few of my own: My season of loss, where my dear friend Karen and my father died within months of each other. Not long after was the loss of my marriage and three beloved dogs.

Yet, in that season, I learned much. From Karen and my dad, I learned that "Love never ends". I also felt the presence of God in a way that I had never experienced before. I watched Him bring beauty from ashes as I walked through the divorce process. Faithfully, He showed up when I needed Him most - physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially....

I think back the the birth of my children, and the exhausting season of joy that accompanied them. They've grown and changed and continue to do so.

I felt the ache of conviction when the instructor suggested that perhaps, from time to time, we focus on getting OUT of a current season, rather than being present within it. "I can't wait til they're out of diapers." "I can't wait til school is done." "If I can just get through these next few days, weeks or years, then....." Yeah. Been there.

It's a lesson He's been working on with me. So, Yes, Lord... I hear you. Little by little, I make steps toward your plans for me in that regard.

But, what really stood out for me was when he challenged us to celebrate them and their passing. Live the moments fully while we're in the midst of them. Yet, as their time closes, we step fully into the next season - with joy and purpose.

My season as a white belt has ended, and I have stepped into yellow.

How perfectly timed as He changes some other areas of my life. May I savor the moments and cherish the days. But more importantly, may I follow where He leads, and celebrate the changing of the seasons He brings.

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