One of my children is a night owl. If we did not set a bedtime for her, she could stay up for hours. One night in particular, she saw me working at my desk and told me, “Mommy, I can’t wait to become older so that I don’t have to sleep!”
Now, let me divulge to you the parenting fail I committed in that second: I looked at her and said, “But, baby, I don’t want you to grow older! I want you to stay a baby so that you can live with me and be with me forever!”
As well-intentioned that statement was, I ended up spending the next half hour hurriedly explaining to my teary-eyed child how one day she may have to move for college, but that she totally doesn’t have to and can stay with mommy as long as she wants.
My execution was poor, but the principle I was trying to convey was this: we must give every season of our lives its proper moment. Here was my six-year-old wanting the freedom of an adult! Yet, I was trying to explain to her that her time as a six-year-old has its perks, the values and lessons to be learned.
Too many people are trying to rush into a new season. For many, there is this pervasive discontent with where they are and a nagging need to be somewhere else in life. Younger people want to be older. Older people want to be younger. Poor people want to be rich. Rich people want to be richer. Unemployed people cry for jobs. Employed people cry for the advantages that come with an unemployed life. Single people pray for spouses. Married people complain about their spouses. The need for more and different is endless in today’s society.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says,
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.
In the Western world, people see time as a linear concept. It’s all about moving forward and progressing. There is this inherent belief in moderns that the longer you live, you should — if all goes well— have more and be more. What King Solomon realized was that time is seasonal, not linear.
What gets you up every morning? If I were to tell you that there is no promotion, no future growth, no gain in anything that you do, would you have the motivation to maintain that pep in your step?
Deep down we are motivated by the idea that time should pay us the longer we live. Disappointment and jadedness occurs when we realize that time can take just as much as it gives. This is why fresh graduates enter panic mode when they are going through a season of unemployment. This is why new moms become depressed, especially if they already have degrees and careers. This is why midlife crises are common. For some reason, when time stands still and if good change is slow to come, many begin to stress for it begins to feel that something is wrong.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time…”
There is a season for everything. You will only be wasting your days if you are just pining away for the benefits of another season. Just as much as money is a resource, time is a resource as well. And we are called to steward it with wisdom. No season in your life, no matter how challenging and dark, is meant to master you. The first thing to do would be to recognize what sort of season you are in.
It could be a season to rest. It could be a season to pour out into your work. It could be a season to wait for a mate. It could be a season to seek for a mate. It could be a season to shine. It could be a season to remain humble.
Do not waste your time with complaints because complaints do not invite God’s blessings. After you recognize what type of season it is, you must steward its responsibilities and claim its blessings. There’s an appropriate response to every season. As you partake in that response, you can experience the goodness of God, even in the midst of sorrow.
This year, my darling third child has been incapable of falling sleeping in her bed by herself. She needs someone in her bed, patting her to sleep. We tried it all so that wouldn’t have to be the case, but she just stubbornly insists on having one of her parents sit by her side or else she’ll remain awake.
It’s been a rough few months. I admit, I complained a bit to my husband about how I wished she would just grow up quickly so that we could get our night times back. However, last night, I felt a surge of newfound compassion to do our nighttime routine well. If I was going to do this, I wanted to do it right. So, as I lied down next to her, I surveyed her pudgy hands, kissed her soft cheeks, and smelled her hair. I felt her nestle her face into my chest. And occasionally, I smiled back when she would try to peep through her “closed eyes.”
Then, the Lord said, “These past few months were a gift to you and your husband.” I was almost sure I heard Him wrong. I asked Him, “Lord, what do you mean? How can sleeplessness and wrestling her to bed be a gift?” Then the Lord replied, “She is your middle child. I allowed this season so that you can make sure to remember her at this stage.”
Oh, my heart welled up with pure gratitude, because He was right. If my Third did not cry out to me like this for the past few months, I most definitely would not have spent so much time with just her. But, now, that mischievous smile of hers will forever be branded into my mind.
These past few months of spending time with her were indeed a gift. It had built an intimacy between us that would not have formed if she just knocked at 8 p.m. like the rest of her siblings. Not only that, I spent those evenings pouring out in intercession over her as I would wait for her to fall asleep. These past few months were full of blessings and intimate moments. There was beauty in this season.
Time is not on your side. It will slow down for no one. In order to master it, you must learn how to steward it in the Lord.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)