The summer after I graduated from college, I attended 22 weddings. Twenty Two.
There’s only 14 weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
I have been a bridesmaid 12 times and maybe sometimes during those wild wedding years, I felt left behind. I was anxious to walk through life with a true companion (a song we played in our college apartment far too many times) and I was committed to wait for the right one, the right time…but there were days when I thought it would never come.
I’d love to say that I was always content with the 10 years between graduating from college and my own wedding, but sometimes I was mad at those years. I didn’t believe that marriage was the answer to life, but I did (and still do) believe that it would be fulfilling and sharpening and incredibly fun. I heard every well-meaning (and horribly flawed) sentiment like, “You’re just so great, I can’t believe no one has snatched you up yet.” I was rarely encouraged to savor my current season.
Looking back now, those years feel like a huge bonus. 10 years to be just me. To choose where I wanted to live. To learn from great roommates. To pay my own way and make important decisions. To discover that even though I have an expensive degree in Interior Design, that my heart and gifts were in ministry.
I spent a year in Montana with 49 other students climbing mountains and studying the Bible. I was available to care for my mom while she was dying and then had the privilege of living with my dad for almost 8 years after she was gone. I took low paying, highly satisfying jobs in ministry. I went to Europe and Israel and Europe again, and hundreds of other places in between. And even though my prayer journal saw some restless days, I found a way to make those years count.
I got married when I was 32, a wee bit later in life than I had expected. I had my first child at 35 which is considered Advanced Maternal Age (oh geez), my second at 37 and we’re hoping for a third now in my 40s. I really love how it all panned out. I am thankful for the maturity and self-knowledge I brought into marriage and parenthood.
But everyone’s journey is different and there is no “correct” timeline for such life passages. Those who marry young get to grow up together, those who are single get to pursue their passions in an undivided way. Me? I might be a mature mom, but I’m gonna be a old grandma. Nonetheless, I will embrace MY story.
The season I find myself in now has a whole lot less sleep and no trips to Paris so far. But, it has more intimate and sweet moments than any one I’ve lived yet. It is a chapter that I longed for and now that I’m in it, I realize that like every other season, it’s full of both great and hard things. The illusion is that there is a best season and once we get there, it will last. That’s the thing about seasons, they change. We savor the sweet ones and we push through the hard ones, but neither lasts forever.
Last year I left a job I loved (after 10+ years) to stay home full-time with our two small kids. It’s what I want, yet I find myself needing to be reminded to fully embrace this season and not wish it away. The dictionary says that to embrace something is to welcome it, to accept it willingly. To wrap your arms around it and squeeze it with fondness. It really says that. To embrace my season of life is to not wish I were somewhere else. Not yearn for the simple and wealthier past or always be looking toward the less exhausting and cleaner future. I want to soak it in when I hear my son Sawyer say to his sister, “Can I ballet you Harper?” I want to look into my husband’s eyes with all the chaos around us and smile about this life we’re building together. I want to jump in with my whole self- maybe not with the mom haircut or the mom jeans, but with everything else.
This season is about being more available to my family. It’s about little bodies that still fit in my lap. It’s about constantly caring for other people’s needs, giggling, wrestling and driving my fabulous mini-van (don’t even get me started on how I love that van). It’s about letting go of the accolades, not buying the things I want (or even the things I need) and discovering that I am less patient than I thought. It’s about finding out what sacrifice really looks like.
This story is mine and I want to live each chapter of it. This season will never come again.
There are stretches of time that seem to have no life, no bright spots. Dreams that don’t come true, flowers that never bloom. Finding that you’re living a story that you wish wasn’t yours. It would be easier if we knew that our hopes would eventually be fulfilled, but contentment is more than just making the “waiting count.” Because it’s not about waiting, it’s about living today. What if that companion doesn’t show up? What if healing never comes? What if that person won’t reconcile? What if that pregnancy test never says positive?
I am convinced that there are golden threads to be found in every season, no matter how dark. Sometimes they aren’t visible to us until years afterward, but I believe they’re there. The lie that often floods our dark times is that things will never change, it will always be like this. It won’t always be like this. Seasons change and new dreams are born. Thank God for that. Nothing lasts forever, not even the greatest seasons. In the words of Ponyboy Curtis (ok, ok, Robert Frost), “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”
Philippians 4:11-13 from The Message reads, “I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”
Remember the God who made you. He has not forgotten you, He is with you in each chapter.
Embrace your season of life. Whatever, wherever. THIS season. Wrap your arms around it, squeeze it with fondness.