I saw a post by Simon Holland, writer and comic, this morning on social media that said:
“𝗜𝘁’𝘀 𝗵𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴,”𝗺𝘆 𝘄𝗶𝗳𝗲 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗵𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳 𝗮𝘀 𝘀𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗼𝗼𝗸𝘀 𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘀𝘁 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗲𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝗶𝗿𝘀𝘁 𝗱𝗮𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝗳𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝘁𝗲𝗺𝗽𝘀.”
And I immediately shared it with my husband and close friends as that is exactly, me. Here, in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, we haven’t seen measurable rainfall since spring.
So the forecast alerting us to over an inch of rain this weekend, along with lower temperatures, is being met with enthusiastic hoorays from everyone.
Personally, my ‘Harvest Decor’ has been up since a few days before September (don’t judge), as it hallmarks the “cozy” time of year—and I just couldn’t wait.
But, when I really think about the symbolism of what “Autumn” represents, I’m definitely not the first to dive in and accept that this new season is upon us.
Over 20 years ago, Christian recording artist, Nichole Nordeman, wrote the song “Every Season,” in which she describes the physical, metaphorical, and spiritual purpose of each season of life.
It has become a sort of anthem for me, recognizing that God is with me, no matter where I’m at in life. The song begins with a vibrant description of summer—when life is full and abundant.
Sure, it may seem overcrowded with busyness at times, so there is not a lot of time for reflection—just going, going, going. Having gone through the struggles of many winters of life, “Summer” is where I long to set up camp to create and savor every memory I can make.
But now, I find this verse of the song resonating most:
“And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still, I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder wind
I will offer thanks for what has been and what’s to come
You are autumn.”
You see, I’m one of those people who does not like to embrace “change.” I love tradition, routine, and yes, I’ll admit it—control.
CHANGE messes with all of that.
So, for longer than I care to admit, I thought I could beat CHANGE at its own game by preparing for it. I would imagine what a life would look like when my son and daughter eventually launched from our nest. I would ponder the traditions and holidays and how that might be obliterated because of their absence. I would say farewell in my mind to the precious ongoing memories that we make together, as our family unit of four reduces to just two.
As you can imagine (and perhaps even relate to), this line of thinking wrecked me. And not only that, because I had tried to get such a head start in preparing for CHANGE, it was destructive to the moments I had in those final years where we were all together. Instead of embracing those moments, I was fretting over how those moments might be my last.
I remember the first time I watched a parade with my mom and saw those strange flaps next to the eyes of the beautiful Clydesdale draft horses. As she’s the expert in all things equine, I knew she’d have an answer. She explained they are called “Blinkers” and blind the horse from seeing anything to the rear and peripherally. They are used to prevent the horse from being distracted or spooked, especially on crowded city streets.
I’ve thought a lot about those little leather patches, as I believe that has been what God has gently been attempting to use on me, “blinders” to keep my focus on the present. He’s been nudging for this all along.
Still, perhaps the introduction of Covid, forest fires, and a further dividing climate in our country has forced me to accept this perspective or risk plummeting fully into a life of constant anxiety and worry. Instead of using my imaginary telescope to zoom in on what might be furthest on the horizon, God has instead said, “Focus right here, Steph, I don’t want you to miss what I do TODAY.”
He’s also encouraged me to find joy in all the memories and traditions of the past, but not mandate they be part of the blueprints of the future. As the Ultimate Architect, He may actually have something so much better.
Another quote I love is, “Autumn teaches us how beautiful it is to let things go.”
Again, I’ve loved this statement because fall brings out all the “feels” for me. I ooh and ahh at every notice of vibrance in the changing colors and eagerly anticipate the first frost and opportunity to wear a sweater. However, it has been uncomfortable to attempt to unpack that sentiment and apply it to my life.
Now, I am finally recognizing its truth. CHANGE can actually be beautiful.
In my own life, it dug up lost dreams and passions that had been set aside because my family came first. I was offered a position to take over a third-grade classroom, and it was like a part of my soul emerged from its dormant cocoon. It was scary, exhilarating, and so far beyond what I believed I was capable of doing or any plan I might have construed—it ended up feeling like I had been made for just that position.
Likewise, my husband’s career transformed, offering more travel and responsibilities that ideally fit his personality but weren’t what was best for our family for two decades.
Trust me, as I share all of this, I still fail to keep this perspective on a daily basis. I’m constantly batting and pulling down those “blinkers” to see what others are doing at this stage of life or dwell in the concerns I have for what lies in the future.
But more importantly, I am starting to see the beauty in my own “Autumn” of life and perhaps the brilliance that comes from ‘change’ too.
“I have been married to my husband, John, for 24 years- the guy I had to coach through two girlfriends before he figured out I was the one. We have a son that is 22, and a daughter who is 19, so we are halfway experiencing the “empty nest” stage of life. I embrace all things family, home, and “cozy”, have serious attention deficit due to delight when surrounded by nature or animals, and get a kick out of hanging with our kids – even as they turn into young adults. Zephaniah 3:17 speaks of God singing over us, and in Genesis we find God instructing Abraham to name his first-born the word that literally translates to “laughter”. While I will have to wait for Heaven to implement any sort of singing others would benefit from, I can laugh- and certainly smile- and hope to use these gifts to navigate through the highs and lows of life.