It looks like summer has come to an end. Although it’s still in the high 90’s here in Texas, so arguably it’s still the summer season. But tomorrow will be the first day back to school for the kids where I live. And all around me are Moms who will be walking their child into Kindergarten and then walking home to an empty house. There are Moms who have dropped off their child off in a city, and sometimes state, far away for college and have returned as an empty nester for the first time. There are also Moms who no longer have a child to drop off at school because of one tragedy or another, and the turn of the new season stings. There are women who have lost their jobs or have finally retired, or have even been forced to retire, only to realize they have no idea what to do with their time. Then there are some women who have suddenly found themselves divorced or widowed after being married many years. Now what do they do?
I want to talk to all of you women - and I know that you’re out there because I talk to a large number of them as a Life Coach. But I want to talk to you who feel like you’re experiencing a life-change of any sort. That could be huge, or it could be just a subtle shift in your life, or it could be somewhere in between. And, you might even have a combination of several life-changing events all at once. The difficulty of any particular life-change is that it can come with anxiety, worry and fear of an unknown future, sadness, feeling a loss or empty feeling, feeling unimportant, unessential, and purposeless, directionless. Feeling out of control.
For you, you are experiencing Winter.
There are four seasons of life. And I’m getting this information from John Rohn’s book, The Seasons of Life.
The season of Spring is full of hope, new beginnings, and opportunities.
The season of Summer shows signs of growth, need for protection, and an abundance of distractions.
The season of Fall is defined by successes and achievements, and failures.
The season of Winter is evident where there is sadness, heartbreak, loneliness, and sickness - whether that be physical or emotional.
I thought the world had come to a full stop when my husband died. But life kept going. The world keeps revolving. Everyone keeps going about their business. And here’s something strange to consider. Someone, or many someone’s, all across the world were experiencing the exact same thing I was at that very moment. And even more had gone before me and were on the other side of that initial shock. And as Rohn suggests, only “…a few will grasp for a new beginning and, on finding it, will pull themselves to their feet and move back into the world to not only do well, but leave their mark indelibly impressed upon the business, political, or social world. The others will be satisfied to merely exist in self-pity.”
So, if we want to move out of Winter, then we must decide that’s what we’re going to do. In his book, Rohn says, “It is in the face of adversity that things begin to change, and the “things” always change as a result of the personal change that takes place.” In order words, if we want to change the season, we must start with changing ourselves.
And in order to navigate this season of Winter well we must do three things: Learn, Prepare, and Rest.
The first thing: We must learn.
Rohn says, “The first great lesson of life to learn is that winter will always come.” Now, we know this. We don’t leave this earth unscathed. There’s hardship or heartbreak of some kind all around us. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. This world is full of trouble of one kind or another. And if we weren’t adequately prepared for Winter - and we’ll talk more about what that might look like next - but if we’re not prepared, then it could catch us off guard and make us feel off kilter.
Winter is a time for getting to know ourselves. It’s a time for examining, pondering, and introspection. It’s a time for evaluating and re-evaluating our lives. What do you like to do? What are your passions? What are you good at? What makes you happy? It’s quite likely that being rushed into this season of Winter you end up with an identity crisis. Many people don’t even know the answers to those questions.
Who are you now? It’s a valid question. Especially if you’ve spent most of your life taking care of others. Or pouring your life into your job, or possibly even ministry, and now everything has changed. Your world as you knew it has changed. It’s quite possible you have changed. People around you have changed. And yet, there’s a possibility that, because of all that change, we get stuck. Stuck right in the middle of it. As if we’ll never move out of Winter. We’ll be there forever. This is our lot. Sad. Heartbroken. Lonely. And Heartsick. Everything is lost. Everything a failure.
But here’s something crucial to remember when you look back as you’re evaluating, know that something is only a failure if you haven’t learned from it. The goal in looking back is to glance ever so briefly at where you’ve been and what you’ve experienced, so that you can catch the lesson and move forward; to determine what actions and beliefs served you well, and take note of the ones that didn’t so that we can choose to move on forward without them. I talked extensively about this in episode number 66 - Don’t Look Back. In that episode I said, “We look back at the sin, the pain, the shame, the guilt, the embarrassment, the feelings of hopelessness, the rejection or abandonment, the grief, the loss, and we stare at it, remembering, rehearsing it, wanting to take it back, get a do-over, beating ourselves up. And the Adversary keeps you stuck in your past and keeps you from moving forward towards your purpose. It is critical that you stop allowing your past or something that has happened to you in the past, dictate who you are in life or where you are going. If we go back to the purpose of the rearview mirror in your car, it is a fraction of the size of your front windshield. It’s for glancing, not staring. Your eyes, your focus should always be on what’s ahead.”
So, what could you learn from your experiences? What would you like to do differently in your life? What could you create? How could you reinvent yourself? By the way, for more on reinvention, take a listen to episode number 81.
Winter is a time to learn. How could you set yourself up for Another Beautiful Life?
The second thing to do during Winter is Prepare:
“The arrival of Winter finds us in one of two categories: Either we are prepared, or we are unprepared,” says Rohn. He continues, “To those who are prepared, who have planted abundantly in the Spring, guarded their crops carefully during the Summer, and harvested massively during the Fall, Winter can be yet another season of opportunity.”
And what helps is to realize that whatever has created the life-change, you are moving into a new season. And it just looks scary because you’ve never been here before. But all your life you’ve been doing new things you’ve never done before. Like learning to walk. You are moving into a new season and God is directing your steps. He’s with you, leading and guiding you into the “next.” So, the best way to be prepared for sadness, heartbreak, loneliness, and sickness is to cultivate an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Now, let me tell you, His Holy Spirit is the best friend you’re going to have in a time like this. For a believer, He is the comforter and the peace giver. But He’s also the One who brings wisdom, knowledge, and discernment as His good counsel. And He is the One who strengthens you with power in your inner being. So, inviting Him into your life, before Winter, is the most wise thing you could do. He wants to help! This is why integrating brain science with Biblical faith is so powerfully healing and transformative. His work is the best work. So, let’s start by inviting Him in now before you move into a season of Winter. This is what it means to be prepared. To have planted the Word of God abundantly in your heart in the Spring, to guard your faith-walk carefully during the Summer, and harvest His favor massively during the Fall. You can have all this stored up - in the storehouse of your soul - so that when Winter looks barren and bleak, you have reserves. You have all you need. Don’t wait - don’t be unprepared. Don’t wait until Winter comes to build your reserves. It’ll be too late. Not too late for Him, of course. He’s always ready for you. But for you. You will suffer much longer and harder if you’re not prepared.
Another way to prepare is in light of what’s coming ahead. Rohn says, “What we do with our time, with ourselves, with our friends, and with our attitudes during the season of Winter determines what we will do with the coming Spring.” The season of Spring is full of hope, new beginnings, and opportunities. We’re going to talk more about Spring next week. But, we desperately want Spring to come. And come quickly. But we can’t move too quickly out of Winter. We must do the good work. We must set ourselves up for Spring.
So the third thing we must do during the season of Winter is Rest
I want to put a warning here. Winter is a season where buffering is most prevalent. Buffering is just another word for doing something that keeps you from dealing with the emotions that you think are going to take you under or are too hard to face. Buffering is binging on Netflix, drinking too much alcohol, eating through the pantry, shopping, scrolling on social media. Whatever numbs you out and keeps you from truly feeling. So, part of rest really means allowing yourself to fully feel all the feels during Winter. Don’t hide. Don’t pretend. Don’t resist or stuff it down.
In “Something New: Part 3” Episode # 14 I talked more about finding rest for your soul. I believe this is ultimately what God wants for each of us. To find that place where our soul feels at rest – even when we’re experiencing a significant life-change. We can find rest for our souls in the midst of loss and sadness and change. It makes no sense in human understanding - that’s Phil. 4:7 - but is a supernatural peace for our souls. This supernatural rest is evidence that we are right in the middle of His will – on the right road, following His direction, allowing Him to move us and grow us where He will. Allowing Him to provide the rest we need for our souls. And in this rest, we’ll find that God knows exactly where you should be heading in this time. He knows what’s up ahead, He knows what’s best for you as you travel this road. God sees you and all that you’re going through. And He marks out new paths. And as He leads you in this new direction, He births something new in you, draws out the strength in you, rises up all the amazing stuff that’s in you that you didn’t even know you had. And He expands you into something greater. Spring.
Friend, keep moving through Winter. Spring is coming! In order to navigate this season of Winter well you must do three things: Learn, Prepare, and Rest. And don’t forget that you’re not doing this alone. If you’ve invited Him in to help you, God is right there with you, moving you forward, leading you on, and setting you up for a beautiful Spring. Just keep moving.
Friend, if you are going through any type of life-change or transition and you’d like someone to walk with you during this season, I’d love to be your Life Coach and help you integrate your Biblical faith with the power of brain science - what we know about the decisions we make, the things we believe, the thoughts we think and the emotions that drive us that change our life.
I’ve put a link in the show notes for a free 30-minute call just so we can see if we’re a good fit to work together and show you how Life Coaching would work for you.
Also, don’t forget click the link in the show notes to get the free, downloadable guide that complements this episode.
Have a wonderful week, friends. See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life podcast.