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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Seasons of Life

 May 2009, Muir Woods (in a much different season of life)

A little over a year ago I was sitting in a church meeting listening to a very optimistic woman (whom I admire) talk about how no matter what we're going through in life we need to be cheerful. I remember I was sitting alone and felt even more alone as I tried to make sense of the words coming out of her mouth. At that point I was still struggling to carry my burden of grief and loss. There wasn't any part of me that felt cheerful about what I was going through.

I knew there was some truth to what she was saying, and that part of me felt guilty, to the core. Tears filled my eyes and I found myself staring into an opened book in my lap, hoping no one would notice my sadness, especially during a lesson on being cheerful. 

But, there was this other part of me that felt like there was something missing from her well-intended encouragement. I knew the message this woman was trying to convey was only meant to be uplifting, but it just felt like there needed to be some distinctions made between different kinds of trials and different responses to those trials. 

Aren't there differences in weight and scope of trials? Aren't some trials harder and more painful than others? I mean, as frustrating as it is to lose your car keys, it's quite a different burden than losing a child, isn't it? And, in those heavier trials, isn't there a purpose to letting ourselves feel the pain and the grief? How can we properly be comforted if we don't properly mourn? Is being cheerful always the answer?

As I sat through the rest of that meeting, I turned my thoughts to the scriptures and was reminded of the Savior's response upon hearing of the death of his friend Lazarus. He wept. I'm sure he wept, in large part, because of the deep compassion he felt for those who were devastated by his death. They were mourning and his response was to mourn with them. There was no mention in that situation about their need to be cheerful. He mourned with them and then he reassured them of His own power over death and brought Lazarus back to life. It could have been so easy for the Savior to skip the whole mourning part and just display his power to heal. If the Savior felt the need to weep, even when he knew in a matter of minutes he would reverse the effects of death, then there must be some lesson there for us.

A couple of days later I found myself thinking about the famous verses found in Ecclesiastes, made more famous by this song.

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Now, as I sit in this particular season, which is drastically different from the season I was in a year ago, I recognize even more the wisdom in allowing myself the time and the space to fully and purposely embrace the different seasons of life. I'm glad that a year ago I gave myself permission to break down, to weep, to mourn. I'm glad that I went through the stages of grief, even though at times I felt guilty and awful for some of the ugly feelings that would surface. 

There is something about experiencing the hard and the painful in their fullness that have now made the joy and the gladness that much more beautiful.

And, even though my season of mourning has gratefully been replaced with a season of joy, my heart is painfully aware of dear, close friends who are currently in a season of pain and mourning. I wish I had all the answers for why certain things happen, but this I do know... there is a time to every purpose under heaven

So, my dear friends, I hope whatever season you find yourself in, you'll give yourself permission to feel whatever you need to feel, without feeling guilty for whatever those feelings are. It's okay to feel sad, it's okay to cry, it's okay to mourn lost dreams, it's okay if you don't feel cheerful about the painful trials you're required to go through. And, please know that you are not alone in your mourning. Remember it is a season. It has its own purpose. It will have an end. There will be another season around the corner. A season when it'll be okay to laugh, to dance, to heal.

That joyful season will come to those who are still painfully awaiting its arrival. I had a hard time believing it myself when I was stuck in my grief, but my season of joy has come just like I was promised it would. And, I hope that my friends who currently find themselves in one of life's darker and harder seasons, that they'll hang onto hope for the season of joy that will come. Because it will come. I know it will.


Allred Mom said...

Your thoughts are always so pertinent and profound. I'm sure they bring comfort to those that need it and also faith to help them get through their hard days.
There is a time for every season in our lives. I'm so grateful that right now yours is full of joy.

Mindy said...

May I share your thoughts on my secret blog? :) With credit to you or not to you, whichever you prefer. :)

Becky Rose said...


Kate said...

Thank you Megan . . .
It was a year ago last week that we lost our Zachary . . . I'm slowly coming out of my season to mourn, but am now in a season of waiting . . . my season of joy has not fully commenced . . . perhaps it never will in this life . . . but I SO appreciate the reminder that it WILL come, even if I have to wait until forever comes . . .
thank you once again and always for your thoughtful words . . . :)

Andrea said...

Beautifully are simply amazing!

Roxane said...

Thank you Megan. Love you.

Karilyn said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts - they have been truly inspired.

This coming Saturday is going to be my baby girls' 15th birthday, I will come and revisit this page that morning, I want you to know.

Sometimes the pain can be larger than this body we have to carry it around in, and other people have no understanding of the tight grip it can keep you in, I don't know how to shake it at times.

I so much appreciate your post this day, and will, if I may, copy and paste it to a special file I keep on my computer.

May the Lord continue to send His choicest blessings your way~

Carrot Jello said...

Happy Birthday Marc and Megan. :)

Mandi said...

You certainly have a way with words! I love the way you describe your experiences - it's so clear and easy to relate to... and most of all, helpful to so many! What you say is true. I am glad to be with you through every season, and especially glad to be with you in this happier one. I love you.

candice said...
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Miss J said...

Thanks so much for writing this, I actually read it yesterday. I needed to hear it, and I'm feeling better today, finally, after a very long week. I hope my season ends soon...but whenever it does, it will be all that much more joyful.