For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven" (Eccl. 3:1).
Minutes, moments, seconds are easy to measure using a clock. But seasons often defy their calendars. It is January and we are smack in the middle of the winter season. However, as I write this post, it is nothing like winter outside. This evening is almost balmy. The heat is not on and I am still a bit warm. Regardless of what we declare and/or decree, the calendar and the season are not always in sync.
As it is in the natural, so it can be in the spiritual. According to Ecclesiastes, there are seasons and times for everything and every matter. The frustration is that we do not always know when the season is or the timing of the matter. Worse yet, the seasons and the times do not consider or necessarily coordinate with our schedules, causing us sometimes to miss the subtle hints of change. When this happens, we can find ourselves out of sync because we are not operating according to our current season. We find ourselves stalled because we have not shifted gears.
Right now, I would bet, that several of us reading this post have shifted seasons, but we still haven't shifted gears. Things have changed around or in us. Everything may look the same, but we know that things are not the same. This shift, often introduced with a level of discomfort or dissatisfaction, leaves us feeling a bit "off." What used to work, no longer works. What used to satisfy, no longer does. It is almost as if we can feel the gears grinding, but for some reason, we have refused to shift. And trust me-I get it. I OVERstand because I've been there and done that. And when I look back at some stalled times in my life and now face another season change, I am revisiting some shifts I had to and, once again, have to make.
There is one shift in particular that I'd like to share. Others may follow at a later date, but this is one that keeps circling back to me. You see, I had been told in some way or another that what it took to get somewhere is what it would take to keep me there. When it came to relationships, especially romantic ones, I was also told that how you started was how you finished. In other words, it was foolish to think that the things that were missing now, would magically appear at a later date or that what is unacceptable now, would change later. However, several years ago, I had reached a point in life when what I was doing to get me to the place I was at was hindering me rather than helping me.
During this particular season, I had talked with my therapist (yes, therapist, counselor, mental health professional-which we will discuss in upcoming posts) about the insecurities I had about my house, my clothes, my cars, my ...anything🤷🏽♀. I felt like everyone was always ahead of me, knew more than me, and did things better than I did. My therapist made me unpack those feelings and hold them against the reality that was all around me. Then she said, "The tools you used to get here will no longer serve you. They will actually harm you. The dissatisfaction with your life and drive it produced when you were younger helped you to get to where you are now; to not settle for less than what you aspired to, and persevere against tremendous odds. But, you are no longer in survival mode. You made it out. Now you need new tools so you can appreciate what you have and thrive."
That season, (and I am perceiving the same in this one, but for different reasons), required me to make a new beginning of sorts. I had to start again by learning about myself and my life and taking inventory of where I was. I had to take the lessons that I had learned and leave the pain, the shame, and the blame behind. It also meant that I had to humble myself to learn new lessons. You see, I had a Ph.D. in surviving, so it was a scary to be in the pre-school of thriving.
Once I made this shift, more time passed and more lessons were learned. I mastered some things which prepared me to move forward in ways I never imagined. But this forward motion, this shift, didn't automatically put me on top. Sure, it took me to another a level, but the beginning stages of that level. And for some, that is just too daunting. We are used to being in charge; we have arrived at a certain place in life. We are used to being the teacher and giving the lessons, not learning them. And once we reach a certain age, it can become harder. But this year, our revelation may be that starting again is the price of elevation.
For many, 2020 is the year of vision. It is a time to see things clearly. And for some, what God is showing us is that it is a time for a change. However, the change requires us to change, also. We must shift and that shift may necessitate starting again in some form or fashion. It may be a relationship shift, a career shift, a physical shift, a financial shift, a geographical shift, or a _____________________ (you fill in the blank) shift. Or it may be a subtle shift within these areas that changes how we look at things or how we do things. And the reasons for this shift can be as different as we are.
So, whatever the reason(s) is, I encourage you to stop grinding gears and shift, even if it means starting again. Let's face it: we are not the first and we will not be the last to have to start again. As a matter of fact, if we shift and start again, we will be in excellent company:
Moses started again when after fleeing Egypt, he met God on the back side of a mountain, and returned to Egypt with a message to let God's people go
David started again when he fled from Saul after killing Goliath. He was hailed as valiant warrior and anointed King of Israel only to hide in caves and his only following were renegades, outlaws, thieves, and debtors
Peter started again when after he denied Jesus on Maundy Thursday, he proclaimed Jesus on Pentecost Sunday and 3000 souls were saved
Paul started again when although he was born a Hebrew of Hebrews, of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised on the eighth day, a Pharisee by training, blameless under the law, a persecutor of the Church, he counted it all as loss for the unsurpassable knowledge of knowing Christ
Even God started again when after God regretted making humankind, God flooded the earth, saved Noah, his family, and 2 of every animal to replenish the earth
I don't know about you, but I'd rather shift and start some things again in January than spend 2020 stalled, still talking about and doing the same thing that is getting me nowhere come December. Plus, when we move forward, we have a greater chance of leaving the naysayers behind us.