Sometimes we respond to changing seasons of life with a sense of dread, but when we invest our energy in fearing something in the future, we lose track of the beauty and blessings of the present.
By Martha Hultgren, cfaith Staff
In Minnesota, we treasure our summers, but when the season changes from September to October, it is easy to start feeling a sense of dread setting in. On the first chilly day when we have to put on a light jacket or finally wear pants after the heat of the summer, one can almost hear a collective groan rising from the state. Not because the day is so bad in and of itself, but because of what it represents.
Summer is over. And winter is on its way.
My name is Martha Hultgren, and I am a content editor here at cfaith. Jeff asked me to write something for the October Partner Letter, and I began to reflect on what the coming of autumn means to those of us living in Minnesota. It brings conflicting emotions due to the weather extremes we experience here.
The transformation from one season to another also emulates changes I experience in my personal life from one year to the next, but I'm getting a head of myself. More on that in a moment....
Why Do We Live Here Again?
In Minnesota, our winters are legendary. We spend much of winter in darkness, rising and returning home without sunlight. Snow storms are frequent, and if we don’t have precipitation, days are either overcast and damp, or clear and bitterly cold.
Winters here are also long in duration. November starts things off with snow and cold temperatures, and usually it takes until April or May for spring to start showing up in a serious way. Our winters are a popular topic of commiseration, and enduring them a perverse badge of honor. I once read a quote from a farmer from northern Minnesota, near the Canadian border: “We like our winters: they keep the riff-raff out!”
Our award-winning winter season brings all kinds of other headaches as well, such as infamous snowstorms and blizzards which turn 20 minute commutes into two hour prayer-ladened white-knuckle ordeals—and that’s assuming you have good snow tires on your car! This trial can be repeated for days on end, only to recur month after month. Because of the cycle of freezing, thawing, and refreezing—as well as the liberal use of road salt—by the end of the season dodging potholes is also on the list of annoyances we endure.
We are said to have two seasons: winter and road construction.
By now you are probably questioning the wisdom of all 5,266,214 Minnesota residents* as to why any one of them would choose to live here. Therefore, please allow me to try and redeem our state’s reputation.
It Gets Better...Trust Me
Because of our lingering harsh winters, we Minnesotans truly savor our summers, which are short but glorious. Long, golden days are filled with every outdoor pursuit you can imagine (thanks to the pent-up demand from the previous nine months!). We are known as the land of 10,000 lakes, and we fully utilize all of them during our brief three months of summer.
We have ample ways to get outdoors, from extensive networks of hiking and biking trails, to boating, fishing, waterskiing, tubing, wake boarding and camping. We have the scenic North Shore of Lake Superior and the one million acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area to quench our thirst to get outside. Every weekend a mass migration takes place as we head “up north” to our lake cottages and cabins to enjoy nature’s beauty and to squeeze every drop out of summer. Minnesotans cram a year’s worth of living into those three short months.
A Change Of Seasons
So here we are, summer is over, the glorious days of fall are here but will soon disappear, and I can see the free fall into winter rapidly approaching.
As we recently experienced one of those cold days, the verse from the 23rd Psalm came to mind: “Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me.” (Ps. 23:4)
I realized that I was walking around with a sense of dread about the upcoming season, and that this emotion was not how God wanted me to respond. He doesn’t want us fearing or dreading anything.
I began to think about other events I was dreading…
Negative Side Effects
Our middle son is a senior in High School and will be graduating next spring and leaving our nest. My husband and I have 3 children and parenting them has been one of the supreme joys of my life. Watching them grow up has brought so much richness and pleasure to our lives; it is hard to accept that the season of them living at home with us is soon drawing to an end.
It’s that same dread I associate with the coming of winter.
As I was thinking about how dread creates negative anticipation; I realized it also had a side effect. When we invest our energy in fearing something in the future, we lose track of the present. We get so distracted by anxiety over what is to come that we miss the beauty of the present.
Savor The Seasons
October in Minnesota is one of our finest months. Warm sunny days give way to crisp evenings. The comfortable rhythm the school year brings has returned structure to our lives that the too free days of summer lack. We enjoy favorite activities like Friday night football games under the lights, bonfires, and visits to apple orchards where we are able to get local varieties of apples only available for a few short weeks. Fall brings familiar, comforting flavors like pumpkin pie, apple cider, and huge pots of chili to warm us on frosty evenings. It is a month to be savored.
Likewise, this season in our son’s life has brought great pleasure. All the years of training, discipline, and planting the Word in his life have brought a harvest that is gratifying to behold. We are watching him turn into a young man before our eyes. Seeing him lay hold of the truths of God’s Word for himself and consistently making choices that honor God brings joy to our heart. He hasn’t “arrived” (he is, after all, still a teenager!), but he is moving in a direction that is heartwarming to us as parents. His last months at home with us are also to be savored.
Leave The Dread Behind
Is there anything you are dreading? Maybe it is a new season of life you are not particularly looking forward to. Is the fear robbing you of the present? I encourage you to guard yourself against negative anticipation because if you don’t, you may miss out on something wonderful that God may be preparing for you right now. We don’t have to have fear or dread because He is with us. He never leaves us or forsakes us (Deut. 31:6) Don’t forget to notice the beauty He has brought to your life today. If you look for it, it is there.
As we head into the next season God has in store for our family, I purpose to leave all fear and dread behind. Why? Because I don't might miss all the good stuff God wants to bring our way right NOW.
But as for winter...well, I’m still working on not dreading that one!
Over the years, I have reviewed, edited, and published thousands of articles on cfaith's website. I want you to know what a continued joy and pleasure it is to provide this type of content for you and your family.
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May His goodness and grace keep and guide you always,
* Source: Google/U.S. Census Bureau – July 2009
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