September is my favorite month in many ways. The air is crisp. My college schedule is starting to settle into a comfortable routine. The trees gradually transition from lively greens to rich, warm hues. It’s brisk in the mornings and bright and lovely in the afternoons. It seems friendships are vibrant in this month too, lots of time spent laughing in the living room.
But to me, there’s always a bit of fear in the fragileness of the amber leaves dancing in the breeze. I know they’ll eventually detach and go floating through the air, down to the ground. I can’t stand the thought of all of them gone, the trees bare, and the air turning gusty and sharp with cold. I love autumn so dearly, but I dread what’s to come in winter. Just admiring the vibrant autumn shades for seconds can pull me quickly into this apprehension.
I’ve noticed a similar pattern in my thinking about seasons of life. Forgive me for the Christian-ese use of the word ‘seasons:’ but it does fit quite well. Our lives do not stay steadily the same. Rather, everything changes throughout time: the people we know, what we spend our time doing, our goals, routines, and places we frequent. . . For a young person like me it’s easy to see seasons; they change so quickly. From high school to college to engagement and marriage, then onward to a career and kids. Life is always changing. Even if you’ve already reached the ‘kids’ or ‘grandkids’ life markers, there is always much ahead: more changes, more life, more lessons, more people, more places.
The attitude that we have about the future is crucial to our sanity and happiness. Often I think of my life like I do the autumn leaves: changing far too quickly, slipping through my fingers. I see the joyful things in the present but bemoan the fact that they are passing. I look ahead with fear to unknowns, to stresses I haven’t yet considered, to the unavoidable yet unpredictable pains I so wish I could bypass.
Other times, though, the allure of the future pulls me away from the beauty of the present: to the effect that I drift through my days while dreaming of the idealized years ahead. This compromises all that’s around me! I miss so much when I live like this.
The solution to these problems isn’t exactly easy, but it is quite simple. We need to realize the brevity of life and acknowledge the goodness of the present day. Here’s a great starting point: make a list of the things you’re grateful for in your present season of life. Include the smallest and most profound things alike: anything you’ll miss when you realize you’ve moved on. It’s a great practice in gratitude as well. Here are a few things on my list currently:
*Learning things in class I’m excited about and amazed at
*Acting absolutely insane and immature with my roommates
*Being simply a plant mom
*The excitement of Skyping my boyfriend, and on normal days, calling him
*My little twin bed at the end of a long day
*Choosing one meal for the week from Pinterest, then shopping for it and making it
*And, of course, the swaying branches full of bright leaves outside my window
We all could get better at enjoying the present season instead of expectantly or sadly looking to the next. Just like seasons, life moves on unavoidably. Let’s soak up the joys of each day with a grateful, calm heart.
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15
Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?
They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Follow me on social media for post updates!