AlwaysOrange readers—you’re in for a treat! The post you are about to read is written by Lindsey Watson—wife, mother, and author extraordinaire of the blog, Running in Circles.
I first met Lindsey in 2005 when I taught a lesson in her class at Live Oak Classical School as part of my interview process. Seems like ages ago! For the next three years, we taught together and enjoyed conversations ranging from work topics to TV shows to books to food. Lindsey also taught Jacob and Anna in the fourth grade—thank you! For the past couple of years, I have followed Lindsey’s blog and have enjoyed her thoughtful, funny, and poignant posts as she reflects on life, faith, motherhood, and ordinary living. Her deep faith, which comes through her writing in a winsome manner, inspires me. I hope you enjoy her post and her blog as much as I do.
“Before I began staying at home full-time with my kids, I spent five happy years teaching fourth grade. After I left my job when my daughter was nine months old, people kept asking if I missed the classroom (three years later, I still get this question from time to time). It took me a long time to become comfortable with my answer: I miss it terribly, but I don’t want to go back now.
Even on the days that I do want to go back, I can’t. Because what I really miss is my old life: the flexibility and independence I had before having children, the friends I worked with, the gratification of feeling competent in my job, the disposable income. None of those things would be restored to me by signing a job contract.
At a conference I attended last fall, the speaker Nancy Guthrie challenged me to “surrender to the season.” Although talking about “seasons” in life is pretty standard Christian jargon, I had never really thought about its implications before.
The idea of seasons reminds me that good gifts don’t usually come all at once. Each season (even here in Texas!) brings its own joys as well as its own limitations. I’m waiting anxiously to transition from summer to fall: getting some relief from the heat, breaking out my cardigans and boots, enjoying candy corn and hot chai lattes, taking pictures of the kids at the pumpkin patch. But opening myself up to these delights necessarily requires letting go of the afternoons at the pool, the cute comfort of shorts and sandals, the taste of fresh peaches and watermelon. The fall also brings extra responsibilities and activities, days of perpetually cold feet, leaves blowing into the front foyer, and lots of annoying football-related statuses on Facebook.
Good gifts, like manna, get wormy when you try to hold onto them for longer than they’re intended. I’m so thankful for the interactions and opportunities I enjoyed for those years I spent in the classroom. But those are not my gifts for today, except in the form of fond memories and a few long-distance relationships.
I’m challenged daily not to indulge myself in rose-colored nostalgia, pining away for seasons that have passed. To do so would cause me to miss out on the gifts I’ve been given today: my sleeping son nestled in my arms, pretend play with my preschool daughter, flexible time during the day for ministry and social interaction.
Because that’s the other thing about seasons: they keep moving. Surrendering to the season means keeping an open hand and enjoying each sweet gift as it comes, and it also means resisting the temptation to rage against the limitations that each season implies. I know this season will end just as I’ve settled in to it; and in one sense it’s gone forever. But seasons do have a way of coming back around, and I know that just because an opportunity is unavailable to me now doesn’t mean it won’t be a possibility some other day.
So even as I light my cinnamon spice candle and air out my fall scarves, I’ll enjoy one more afternoon watching my daughter run through the sprinkler in the back yard. I’ll stifle my groan and get down on the floor for one more stuffed-animal tea party, knowing that one day I’ll pine for the days when I had such an open invitation to chat with my girl and her friends. And I’ll say out loud the most simple, the most humble benediction I know: For this, today: thank you, Lord.”
Photo by Sandy Watson