“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing…”Ecclesiastes 3:1-22
Alyssa is a fashion consultant. At the beginning of her career, I offered for her to come over and take a go at my own embarrassingly overstuffed closet. With astonishing energy she began taking each item out and throwing them into piles.
I gulped. With laser sharp wisdom, she assessed the sum of my earthly possessions.
After several hours I had collapsed on the floor—there was no room left on the bed—but Alyssa was still 100% focused.
“Okay, this is what I am seeing. You are no longer in high school, so we won’t even talk about this pile. You can choose one—ONE—sentimental item and put it in a box in your garage, but it does not belong in your closet where you see it every day. “
She rubbed her hands together.
“Moving on, we have exhibit A. You were a hippy in college, obviously!”
I looked at the pile of worn out peasant skirts, remembering barefoot days in Santa Barbara.
“–And then you decided to become a preppy princess in grad school.”
Lots and lots of button downs. Exhibit B was a pretty big pile. I nodded.
She went on, “what is up with all these silk dresses that look like something out of the 1960s?” (i.e., Exhibit C). It was true, there were a lot of them.
“I got them on sale, for when I was going to go to Film School on the East Coast. I guess I was going for retro-intellectual-artistic look…” I trailed off.
“But you never went,” she said.
“I got them on sale,” I muttered.
“So every time you open your closet you are looking at periods in your life that don’t exist anymore or will never exist.” Her eyes narrowed, encouraging me to acknowledge the truth. “Jess—you need to wear clothes for the season you are in.”
A tear slid down my cheek.
What season was I in?
This was way more complicated than figuring out a winter wardrobe or packing for a beach weekend.
“Who are you right now?” she pressed.
Ugh. I hate deep probing questions that make me assess my current state.
“For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.”
Song of Solomon 2:11-13
You can’t enjoy spring if you keep on living in winter.
I discovered that the lack of direction in my closet represented a deeper lack of direction in my heart. The Lord used Alyssa like an alarm clock to wake me up to the season I was in with Him. He didn’t want me walking out yesterday’s journey, eating yesterday’s manna, living in the ‘good ol’ days,’ or wishing I was in some golden tomorrowland.
He wanted me (and wants me) to live right here, right now.
He wants me to wake up and get dressed for the day He has planned for me.
As in, ‘This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice in it and be glad.” (Psalm 118:24)
It also means that today, he wants me to put on the whole armor of God, so that I may stand against the scemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:11).
“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.”Psalm 1:2-3
If I pay attention to the seasons, I won’t be caught unawares. I’ll stay sharp and ready to do his will.
If it’s a winter season, know that the Lord is giving you a much needed rest. Without it, you won’t grow as quickly when the weather warms up. The fact that you are not bearing fruit in this season is a blessing. Growth under harsh conditions could cause you to crack, or even die.
Don’t worry. The cold weather won’t last for ever. Spring is around the corner.
If it is a summer season, enjoy the fruit! But remember, you can’t keep up that sort of pace for ever. There is a God ordained rythm to life, and it includes seasons that will, inevitably, keep on cycling around and around until the end of time. Seasons of growth will be followed by seasons of rest. It’s just the way it goes. We can’t stay in one season forever, even if we cling to it for dear life. Why not just let the seasons come and go and live your life right where you are? Why not go with the flow of the Holy Spirit?
“Good. Now we can get this show on the road.” Alyssa smiled and began stuffing piles of the past into garbage bags.
As I watched her deft hands make quick work of the clothes that had made up my life, both real and imagined, I began to breathe.
Seven bulging bags later, all the pretend clothes for pretend seasons were gone. What was left? The process of getting the real me – the me in the present – ready for today, not tomorrow, and not yesterday.
The season has changed several times since Alyssa first swept through my closet. I still have to remind myself of the season I’m in. Some parts of my life are definitely in a winter season. Other parts are in full bloom.
Regardless, the room Alyssa made in my closet for real life, the right now, in your face, kind of life I had longed for and didn’t know I wasn’t living, I’ve guarded closely. If my life starts to feel overcrowded with seasons long since past, I pull out the garbage bags (figuratively and physically). God willing, I will live in whatever present season I am in for the rest of my life – not the season I wish I was in, or the season I just left. I bless you today to do the same and to bear much fruit in the process.