It is rather funny that I read “from stuck to moving on: welcoming new seasons in your life” more than a month ago and didn’t blog about it until now.
I guess I must have been stuck! No, in fact I was enjoying my little kingdom (garden, grandkids, good friends) during my summer speaking break.
Chapter Nine, the second-to-last, in Bill Hybels’ Simplify challenges you to move on if you are currently stuck in an unsatisfactory, unproductive, or unhealthy situation, circumstance or relationship. In order to do that, he suggests you think of your life as a string of seasons: Student. Married without kids. Married with preschoolers. Single parent of teens. Climbing the career ladder. Sandwich years. Empty nester. Widowed. Cancer battle. These are examples of seasons many of us have been through or are currently in.
Each season lasts weeks, months or years and has a beginning and an end. They have an ebb and flow and you move out of one season and into another. Learning to let go of a completed season simplifies your life and unclutters your soul.
It’s important to realize that difficult seasons come to all of us and sometimes you can get a few of those in a row. That can be very challenging so its important to remember that whatever you are experiencing now is just a season; it isn’t your whole life.
Hybels uses the framework of the book of Ecclesiastes to tell some real-life stories about simplicity. For example:
Eccl 3:6 a time to keep or throw away. In my case, I am a thrower and my husband is a keeper. But he travels a lot. So I “simplify” while he is out of town. He seldom notices. Except when I “downsized” his favourite sweater to Goodwill. That did not simplify my life….
Eccl 3:7 a time to be silent and a time to speak. Hybels recommends a media fast to get reacquainted with silence and to have the opportunity to listen and hear from God and your significant others. This would have been good advice for me before i punted Gerry’s favourite sweater.
Identifying your current season is vital to simplifying your life. It brings clarity and focus and makes it easier to see God’s hand in your life. You aren’t in your current season by accident. What does God want to teach you? You might be in a season of loss or success or loneliness or grief or pleasure — whatever it is, be fully there and allow God to mould your character in the process.
Hybels encourages you to recognize when a season is ending so you can move on. Whether it’s an unhealthy relationship or an immature persona (party girl) or an addiction or an attitude — unforgiveness, anger, cynicism, abuse — Hybels says move on.
ACTION STEP: Identify your season
1. What season are you in?
2. What is God trying to teach you in this season?
3. Are you fully engaged in this season? What could you do to embrace it more fully?
ACTION STEP: move on
1. Are you stuck in an expired season? What makes you think this season is ending? How are you resisting the need to move on? Why?
2. What lessons did God teach you during this season?
3. What new season is God opening up to you?
4. What steps can you take to move on?
A final word: A few weeks ago we saw the MRI results indicating our 35-year-old daughter was cancer free. Thus ends a three-year season of increased engagement with her and her family. I am moving on with relief and gratitude! To what? I’m not yet sure. I stopped writing (articles, books) three years ago but continued speaking with a reduced schedule. I am seeking the Lord’s counsel and will as I close the door on a challenging season. One thing I know for sure is that because of the cancer journey God called me to simplicity with a louder voice than ever before. Is He calling you too?