I live off of a county road, and my backyard is a cotton field. For most of the year you wouldn’t know what’s planted there (At least, I wouldn’t. #citygirl), but come October, the cotton begins to bud and all of a sudden it looks like there’s a field of snow growing outside my back door. It is absolutely beautiful. Twice a day for the whole month, I drive past “my” field, drinking in this magical view.
But then yesterday as I drove past my cotton field, I saw the farm equipment that meant the harvest was coming. I hoped maybe they wouldn’t get to my field, that the farmers had other fields to harvest, and I could enjoy my perfect view for one more day. Unfortunately, that was not the case. As I drove towards home and past my cotton field, what had been a beautiful, white, fluffy blanket of a couple of acres now looked … well, ravaged. A few cotton boles were left here and there, but it was only a hint of what it had been. As I left for work this morning and drove past what was left, I grieved over the ending of that beautiful season.
My feelings about the cotton harvest mirror my feelings when things change in my life: I get very attached to the things and people that bring me comfort and joy, and when that season comes to an end, I grieve. I feel empty and abandoned. I feel like I would do anything to keep change from happening.
But life is seasonal, isn’t it? I could’ve stood in front of the cotton harvesting machine with my hands up and tried to stop the farmers from harvesting the cotton, but the fact is, it was time. The cotton was ready. There’s also the minor issue of the field not actually belonging to me.
Often, there are signs that change is coming. I saw the farm equipment; I just didn’t want to admit what it meant. That is pretty typical of me: I’m bad with change. But choosing to look the other way when we see change coming only makes the actual transition harder. When a season of life comes to an end, we have two choices. We can drag our heels, trying to exercise authority over what is not ours to control. Make no mistake, this will make us miserable. I have done that and it is the worst.
Our other option is to be accepting of change, even welcoming. I think the hard part is the questions I ask myself: what if the next season isn’t as beautiful, as fun, and as meaningful as this one was? What if I don’t have anyone to share it with? But that is when the beauty of seasons comes into play: when fall ends, winter begins, and the winter season has a beauty all its own. I can choose to be hopeful that beauty, meaning, significance, will have a role in life’s next season. And because I have seen the goodness of the Lord in my current season, I have every reason to believe He will be faithful in what’s next.
A wise woman in my life has a saying: “God never wastes your pain if you will give it to Him.” When something comes to an end and it is painful, as endings so often are, I believe that the God I serve and love can take my pain and hurt and turn it into something beautiful: hope. Hope that’s grounded in the truth that He will be faithful again. And hope that perhaps I can reassure someone else of His steadfast faithfulness. God is so faithful. He is trustworthy no matter what season of life we find ourselves in.
“Know that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps his gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love him and keep his commands.” Deuteronomy 7:9
Corley Shumaker serves as Assistant Campus Minister at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Arkansas State University. She loves Red Wolves football, nail polish, and flowers. You can find her on Twitter at @corleycline.