Three smiling faces popped up as a memory in my social media feed. But instead of smiling myself, I started sobbing.
The picture showed a happy memory, not a sad one: an October afternoon eight years ago, when I took my three children to the pumpkin patch. My little ones decorated their hand-picked finds with markers and stickers. Then they showed them off for the camera, grinning with the same gap-toothed smiles they had drawn on the pumpkins.
So why was I crying so hard? Even though only God was watching, I felt foolish.
I loved my children’s younger years, maybe a little too much. Little children freely share affection. I remembered how simple it was to relate to them. A sweet treat, a quick hug or a kiss on the top of their heads comprised our daily language of love.
Now, as a mom of two teens and one tween, they are slowly pulling away from me, just as all children eventually need to do. My oldest son resists my touch in his quest to become a man. My words of endearment now seem silly. A trip to the pumpkin patch is passé.
I want my children to grow up strong, able to stand on their own. But I’m not ready to let them go just yet. I’m not sure if I’m ready to dive into the teenage years with my children, but that season has already arrived.
As my tears flowed, God reminded me that each parenting season has its joys and challenges. Each one is designated by Him for a specific purpose, and each one is beautiful in its own way.
A few years ago, I studied Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 in depth. In the introduction to this passage, God tells us, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (v.1). Different times for different activities.
Crying and laughing. Planting and harvesting. Grieving and dancing. Embracing, then turning away.
When we embrace good things in our lives past the designated time, we smother the goodness and hinder our own growth. When we let go of each season at the right time, we can joyfully celebrate the new season God gives us.
I smiled when I remembered the not-so-sweet memories in that past season. At that time, I was still doing potty training and all the laundry. I regularly stumbled over toys on the living room floor, exasperated by the constant clutter. Each night, my husband and I cut our children’s food into tiny pieces and supervised their tooth brushing after our weary working days.
We longed for the days when our children would do more on their own — the very season we’re in now.
When we look back, we can be tempted to see only the good. But the truth is, each season has its own trials. These trials are like weights that strengthen our spiritual muscles for future seasons.
God wants to build our faith through each season. If we want our faith to grow, we can’t stay stuck in the past. We can embrace transitions as they arrive and learn to celebrate the changes.
At God’s nudging, I looked at the good in my current season as a mom of older children. The grown-up conversations and more sophisticated movies we enjoy together. Their sparkling talents that hint at the careers they might choose. The fun-filled Rummy game we play on weekend nights, without the youngest child feeling left out.
I wiped the tears from my face and thanked God for the age of little gap-toothed faces. Turning toward the newer photo of my children on my desk, I celebrated today’s goodness and the goodness to come.
Heavenly Father, thank You for each season of my life. You designate each one for my good. Help me embrace them lightly, celebrating each season while it lasts. I trust that the next season You provide will be full of goodness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (NIV)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How can you celebrate the season you’re in right now, while still thanking God for your past seasons? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section.
© 2019 by Sarah Geringer. All rights reserved.