Monday, September 2, 2013

Seasons of Discontent

Today was Labor Day and by God's grace it was a glorious one. The weather topped out at around 80 degrees, but mostly it was in the 70's with a light breeze and some cloud cover which was perfect for the parade at the annual Septemberfest in Schaumburg. My daughter Caitlin was grateful for the milder temperature as she was marching with her high school band in her wool uniform along the two mile route.

I love parades. I love sitting curbside, meeting people, standing when veterans go by with flags and waving to scout troops. I love getting excited about bulls-eye candy (which I never ever see or eat outside of a parade) and sharing freebies with really little kids in front and grandparents in the second and third rows. It's an extra special bonus to cheer my daughter on.

It still feels like summer and according to the calendar there are almost three more weeks of it, but all the kids are back in school, Labor Day is over and the pre season football games are behind us. So for all practical purposes it is now officially fall.

Fall is my favorite season but the beginning of it always feels a little bittersweet. Like something precious has to be given up in order to get a better thing. I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to summer, but I'm looking forward to the next stage at the same time. The downside of fall (besides the fact that it leads up to winter) is the "start up" pressure. Getting kids back into school and adjusted to the routine that fell to the wayside for the better part of three months can be a challenge. I've been blessed as my kids are adapting very quickly (even with two of them at a new school). Yes...for those wondering, all three are high schoolers now! I suspect this transition was more stressful for me than it was for them. Some of that was the logistics of open houses, registrations, new lockers and gym uniforms and some of that was writing checks. Some of the stress was subconscious I think - a place where my brain and my heart are making a connection that my youngest children may be out of the house in four short years and home far less while they are here.

At work this is our busiest time of year as we re-launch the ministry programming that aligns with the school year. Classes that took breaks for the summer start up again with new volunteers and participants. I deal with that as both an employee and a volunteer. It can be tempting to panic when there are many unfilled volunteer positions and lots of demand for programming. Few if any of us ever feel ready when our "opening day" hits.

We were in a meeting a week or so ago when one of the pastors spoke about this time and how some of us react to it as a "season of discontent." The point was made that it's easy to resent and resist the changes that come with the fall even when you know once you're in it you're going to be glad about it.

Like everyone else I've spoken to I feel like summer flew by AND that it came and went even faster than the year before. We often end up feeling we've been denied our rest and start to wonder if we are truly prepared for the work in front of us. That's the temptation. To put on the brakes. To grab one last summer hurrah (which is basically what Labor Day is for many folks).

But I would also do well to remember something my sister said to me. In her words I had a "not so sucky summer."

She's right.

In June I met her in California for a fabulous five days of terrific weather, breathtaking scenery, excellent food, wonderful company and lots of relaxation.

In July we went to my favorite vacation spot on earth (Arcadia, Michigan) and spent another five days with close friends in beautiful weather on a gorgeous lake with great entertainment, enjoyable exercise and lots of relaxation.

In August we spent a weekend in Lake Geneva in a comfortable home with access to a spectacular pool, scenic hiking trails, charming shops and popular restaurants, and we were blessed with lots of relaxation.

So in retrospect, God has prepared me for the season in front of me and whatever deficiency I feel is not so much due to not being built up enough for the task ahead of me but to remind me to continue to look to the one who says His grace is sufficient for me in whatever season of life I'm in.