It’s almost harvest season. Our gardens are growing full of ripening tomatoes and zucchini carefully hidden under huge leaves. These plants all started as tiny seeds, planted at the beginning of the growing season, nurtured with the right environment and nutrients, and soon will be collected in the harvest season.
Life is like that, too.
Seasons of Life
We all go through seasons of life; there are seasons of growth, beauty and harvest, and seasons of dormancy, waiting and loss.
Contrary to nature, we want to bloom and have an abundant harvest all the time. We want sweet fruit, stunning flowers and a cornucopia of good things all the time. We see the best the world has to offer in pretty, shiny, sparkly, glittery gold and we say “gimme, gimme!” but that’s not reality. Wise King Solomon wrote about the rhythm of life’s seasons:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)
Naturally, when we’re faced with the reality of life, we can be shocked, scared, angry or devastated. We ask, “why me?” But it’s not just you. Everyone faces difficult seasons of life. Our response to each season is key for growing.
Plan for the Growing Season
My dad was a farmer. He knew all about seasons and how any given season could bring a plentiful harvest or a scarce one. When a bad crop or a drought wiped out the entire harvest, it didn’t stop him from moving forward. Dad faced a lousy season by planning for the next one: He gathered all his resources and bought more seed.
When you’re faced with a bad season — perhaps a health setback, a financial crisis, an honest mistake or something completely out of your control — don’t sulk. Don’t take on the attitude that you’ll never plant more seeds. Take the time to regroup, recharge and plan for the next growing season.
Of course, this is easier said than done. I, too have wanted to give up and throw in the towel — or should I say my gardening gloves? But giving up means there will never be another harvest. Don’t let rough seasons discourage you or, worse yet, make you live in fear of moving forward.
Plan Your Work And Work Your Plan
Last year I bought these beautiful lettuce seeds from the Monticello Jefferson Home gardens. I was so excited to plant them! I’d feel so proud after these little seeds grew, and I had visions of my family eating this fantastic lettuce around the dinner table.
Months after my purchase, I was trying to figure out what happened to that lettuce!
Did we eat it? Did it even grow? Wait, why didn’t it grow?
A few more months passed and while I cleaned out a drawer, guess what I find? The package of lettuce seeds. I never planted them!
My dream wasn’t realized because I never even planted the seeds.
Every idea and dream starts with a seed. Just one tiny seed. That seed, however, can’t grow on its own. It requires action. You can’t harvest something if you don’t plant it first. Act on your idea or dream and plant those seeds. Don’t keep them stored in the dark. Nothing grows in the dark.
Evaluate Your Seasons and the Lessons Learned
After you’ve put in the work, take time to evaluate it. Think about what grew and what didn’t. It’s essential to continually evaluate what we’re planting in our lives and learn from each season.
Often, we evaluate our lives and set goals only once a year — we call them New Year’s Resolutions. And in January, the gyms are filled with new members who’ve resolved to get back into shape. Then comes February, real life happens, and suddenly, resolutions aren’t enough to keep us going and we give up and wait until the next January to evaluate again.
But so many things happen in a year’s time. Let’s take a hint from nature and use the changing of the seasons — fall, winter, spring and summer — as opportunities to evaluate our lives.
- What grew? What didn’t?
- Which seeds flourished?
- Which plants exploded out of control?
- Which plants grew a little and then fizzled out?
Try to figure out the cause(s) of each result. What really happened to each seed? Use the knowledge you gain to try again next season.
There are no guarantees that everything we plant will grow; growing is often difficult and never perfect. The key is to always keep planning, growing and learning through all seasons of life.