Last year, I found myself really resisting Autumn.
As a worrying realisation dawned on me, the beginnings of a new song formed
During my routine walk to work, it suddenly occurred to me that I had a very strange attitude about the seasonal transition going on around me. It’s a 12 minute walk, along paths and roads but every step is accompanied by greenery; from a flower box just outside the door of my flat, to large overhanging trees alongside the road I join out of town, to grass and hedgerows that punctuate rows of houses near the office.
When the first yellowing leaves started appearing, they were sparse and easy to spot; they barely impacted my walk at all. But within just a few short weeks, the paths were covered by a layer of slippery, brown vegetation. One morning, as I kicked them angrily out of my way, I realised that I was actually (and this is a little painful to admit) struggling with Autumn.
As I admitted it to myself, the thought took root. I began to wonder if I’m actually struggling with what Autumn means; change. And for the rest of those 12 minutes, I pondered whether my very real contempt towards this transition was a manifestation of my fear surrounding some other uneasy change in my life.
Intrigued, I decided to write my experience down in the hope that expressing it would serve the dual purpose of alleviating some of the distress (which it has, actually) and triggering further realisation of what specific change I might be struggling to accept (which it hasn’t – yet).
The writing became lyrics to what I hope will soon become a new song; Seasons.
Red and brown leaves littered over the path,
Slippery, jagged and bleak.
Bright summer mornings have faded too fast,
I grumble, as I cross the street.
Thick, icy air grips my face like a glove;
I retreat into my scarf.
A stark crimson leaf brushes past from above
And lets out a self-righteous laugh.
Day-dreams of glorious mornings in June
Now decompose underfoot.
Troubled and scared that it’s changing too soon,
I stubbornly choose not to look.
A cool, yellow glow emanates through the haze,
Igniting each breath I expend.
Through the veneer I catch glimpse of the rays
That brighten my journey’s near end.
1. Change: An Inconvenience
Do you ever feel like a change in your life is inconvenient?
Like the leaves ‘littered over the path’, adding clutter and the need to take careful steps in order to avoid slipping, change can mean a frustrating time of learning to do things differently; almost certainly ending in a few slip-ups as we get to grips with a new way of doing things. Sometimes, like the feeling that summer has ‘faded too fast’, it feels like change comes at the most inconvenient time.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (with uncharacteristic optimism!) says, “There is a right time for everything, a season for everything on earth”. So if a change is forcing its way into your life and you feel like it’s not something you’re ready to deal with right now, maybe it’s actually the perfect timing – you just don’t know it yet.
2. Change: A Loss of Control
Oh boy. This one is big for me.
The picture of the leaf ‘brushing past’ and laughing smugly is a reminder of those times we feel like everyone else has embraced something new and just seems to be running with it, and we feel like we have no choice but to follow suit. We don’t have a say in this change, or feel our protestations are being ignored, or even mocked. Have you ever felt like that?
Look at God’s enthusiasm and excitement when he tells the people that he’s going to do something new to help them: “So don’t remember what happened in earlier times. Don’t think about what happened a long time ago, because I am doing something new!” – Isaiah 43:18-19
It’s horrible to feel out of control. But if we can remember that God is really the one in control (and that he thinks trying new things is exciting enough to warrant an exclamation mark) then no matter how frustrating the situation, we can feel a bit more at ease knowing that He is sovereign.
3. Change: An Unknown
Whether (like me) you just want to ‘retreat’ when your perfect plans start to fall and ‘decompose’ around you in the wake of an unprecedented change, or you simply ‘choose not to look’ (also like me), or even if you have a MUCH healthier way of dealing with change, there’s no denying one thing; change is scary.
If anxiety is something you frequently battle with, you may know Philippians 4:6 well: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
This literally is the answer. Prayer genuinely changes situations, relieves anxiety and can even get you on the right wavelength to be listening out for direction from God. That sneaky ‘with thanksgiving‘ bit is a clincher too, because you can’t be worried about the future when you’re too busy being blown away by what God has done in your life so far. It puts it all into perspective and reminds you that your life is in the hands of somebody who has a track record of saving you.
4. Change: A Necessity
In Genesis 8:22, God says, “As long as the earth continues, there will always be a time for planting and a time for harvest. There will always be cold and hot, summer and winter, day and night on earth.”
So change is natural. It was commissioned by God right at the very beginning, and the world has been changing ever since. How amazing that (certainly for me!) resisting it can come so naturally too. By accepting and adapting to change – however gradually – we follow the natural pattern of a constantly changing creation.
One final thing for fellow resisters (resister sisters?!) to hold onto:
Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
The best things never change. ; )