The first hard frost made a visit today. It was both beautiful and sad.
Beautiful because the colors were breathtaking, down to the white crystals on the grass that glistened in the sun.
Sad because it kills the vibrant flowers that bloomed all summer with their rich, creative colors.
Historically, autumn has been a similar mix of feelings for me. I love the beautiful colors. But fall is also a precursor to winter, which I dread with its Midwest winters, lack of sunshine, and seasonal melancholy.
Do you struggle with competing feels, seasonal and life changes? The upcoming holidays may be difficult for you. We can’t change hard seasons, but we can change how we respond to them.
Autumn has been additionally difficult recently. Two years ago, my father died from COVID complications. A year ago, my husband had a near-fatal logging accident. Earlier this fall, devastating events broke significant trust and created big losses. I’m sure you have similar points of pain, grief, and loss.
I felt a lot of anxiety as summer slipped into fall. When I shared these events with a mentor, she mirrored back to me the weight I had been carrying. Hearing someone validate what I felt inside broke the dam loose. Rivers of anxiety and loss poured out in tears. I knew I needed respite from the load. Do you?
I took a sabbatical from life, work, and ministry for a few days. I went to the Laurel Highlands in Pennsylvania with just me and my dog. We marveled at the fall colors, went hiking, walked beside streams, ate some good food, and did whatever we wanted for three days. I spent hours with God, and also hours of silence.
When I came home, I was filled with rest, energy, and hope.
The good news is I’m refreshed. The bad news is life goes on. My challenge, like yours, is bringing a life-giving posture to our daily trials. Like the first frost, life is always full of beauty and sadness, pain and peace, loss and joy. Rarely do we have a completely carefree stance; at least, that’s been my experience.
So I’d ask you–what can you do to lessen your anxiety, melancholy, or load this season? You may not be able to get away for a few days, or even a few hours. Where can God join you in your daily moments? Below are ideas to help you from a retreat I just taught, “Falling in Love with Jesus.”
Connect with God:
Rhythms of Gratitude:
praise God for 2-3 things at the start and end of the day
focus on a half-full vs. a half-empty mentality
sing/listen to praise and worship music
read and meditate on psalms of gratitude
read and reflect
look for God’s character in the passage and keep a list
ask, “What can I apply to my life?”
pray a particular passage
bring everything to Jesus in prayer. “Lord, I give everything and everyone to you.”
pray before and after a task
keep a list of your distractions during prayer time
talk to God throughout your day
pray his attributes
spend time in nature
Pray during routine acts throughout the day, like making dinner, taking a shower, etc.
Connect with Others:
Let God’s love fill you and guide all of your relationships.
pray for others, especially for their salvation.
serve those people God puts in front of you
ask God to use the interruptions in your day
start a neighborhood Bible study
serve your community
sent notes or text messages
create meaningful, reciprocal relationships.
At the Live Extraordinary Conference in September, one of the speakers said we should not be fat on Scripture for our own pleasure. God calls us to engage with others and bring others to a knowledge of HIm. Connecting with others is one of the most powerful ways to bring beauty in our sad seasons and joy in our uncertainties.
I’d love to hear from you. How do you thrive in seasons of uncertainty or loss? What new rhythms or consistent sabbaticals help you?
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