Just as we have summer, fall, winter, and spring—we have different seasons in our lives. With summer we have warm temperatures and sunshine, fall welcomes in changing colors and falling leaves, spring births glorious blooming flowers, and winter ushers in cold weather, and for some—a winter white wonderland.
Each season offers beauty, purpose, and challenges. And with each season we can expect adjustments, challenges, and unpredictability. But for us to make the needed adjustments for our life seasons—acceptance is essential.
Acceptance is key for us when we face challenging and difficult seasons. Acceptance is what enables us to walk graciously through stages of life that we’d rather not walk through. And acceptance ultimately helps us embrace God’s perfect will and plan for our lives.
Some people I have worked with have acknowledged the changing seasons of their lives quite well, but other folks have experienced tremendous difficulty in this process (understandably so).
Marsha came to see me to help her manage losses she had recently experienced. The moment I met her, I could see she carried the weight of suffering like a precious little mule weighed down with an exceptionally heavy pack.
Pessimism and dejection permeated her countenance. And throughout every session we spent much of the session reliving how life used to be before her losses. This lovely middle-aged woman remained stuck in her past life. Sadly, she could not accept the reality life had changed, and she no longer lived in the yesteryears her heart desperately longed for.
Marsha represents many folks I have worked with. They have an inability to accept their current place in life. And consequently, they have little—if any—peace and joy.
Most of us long for those blessed days of long ago. And it’s not harmful to have those wistful moments—they can be very sweet indeed. But we need to make sure we are not stuck in past seasons of our lives. Acceptance helps us graciously move into our next season—and helps us walk through the most challenging times of our lives.
So how do we know if we are in a place of acceptance with our current stage, or placement, in life? And if we are not, how do we get there? Let’s explore the first question: Where are you right now?
We don’t often take the time to assess our feelings about the season of life we are in, but that is part of the problem. How can we move toward acceptance if we don’t recognize, and acknowledge, our emotional response to our specific time? Here is a list of questions I’d like you to ask yourself:
- Are you, right now, where you thought you would be 10 years ago? 20 years ago? Or when you were in your 20’s or 30’s?
- Has your life gone in a direction you had no intention of going toward?
- Did you start out on your chosen pathway and then experienced loss along the way (marriage, child, career, finances)?
- Do you find you spend more time thinking about those good old yesteryears than the present?
- Where are you with the sovereignty of God in your life—even with those painful losses?
- Do you often think about where other people are, i.e., family and friends, and compare yourself with them? Maybe they are doing things you wish you could do?
Now, with each of these thought-provoking questions, I ask you to consider your emotional response to those that relate to you. Take your time—this is an important exercise. We need to identify our current feelings about our place in life before we move into acceptance.
What emotions came up for you as you went through the questions? Anger, resentment, regret, longing, or sadness? Perhaps peace and joy?
One definition of the word acceptance is the “willingness to tolerate a difficult or unpleasant situation.” Acceptance does not mean defeat—nor does it mean giving up. And it certainly doesn’t mean you have failed to________! (You fill in the blank).
With a clear grasp of how you feel about your current season of life—perhaps winter—and an understanding of what acceptance is, let’s address the second question. How do we transition into a place of acceptance?
We begin with some words I opened with, each season offers beauty, purpose, and challenges. In our minds, and hearts, we must see the beauty and purpose within our place in life. And we need to know God is sovereign—He has a plan in mind. He has a purpose. And He makes beauty out of our ashes.
Here are some helpful steps you can begin taking today to help you move toward acceptance of wherever you find yourself today:
- Open your heart to the truth that all seasons of life have beauty and purpose in them.
- We cannot control many circumstances and events (even traumatic ones) that enter our lives, but we always have a say in how we respond to them.
- Spend time meditating on the sovereignty of God.
- Remember, seasons change—winter is not forever.
- And with God’s help, we can graciously accept the various seasons life brings our way—even the most difficult seasons.
The truth is, we can grow and blossom in any season. But the key is acceptance. If we can accept that there is beauty and purpose—even in the bleakest of valleys—we will find peace and joy in our journeys.