Each week the Reckon Women newsletter includes a column from women in the South, in collaboration with See Jane Write. Click here to join the Reckon Women Facebook group.
By Linda Lyle
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11)
Spring in Alabama can be quite volatile as March’s storms can attest. There is something about moving from one season to another that can cause disturbances both in nature and in our spirits. Most of us like our routines and aren’t partial to changes, but life is made of seasons of time. Transition periods are usually the hardest as we struggle to find our way. Whether it is a change in jobs, the death of a loved one, or a national crisis, transitions take time to get used to and require a little grace and patience.
Just over a year ago, I had just finished filling out my schedule for the month of April when all of my plans went astray. The pandemic hadn’t really affected my daily life up to that point. I continued to do my regular job in person since we did parts for the railroad and I worked in an office alone anyway. My secondary place of employment had to shut down, but we needed to do some repairs due to water damage earlier in the year. I assumed that the seasonal job I was scheduled for would continue since it was done online, but since it was related to secondary schools, it was cancelled when school closed down. Our annual ladies Bible study was also cancelled. One by one, all the things on my schedule were deleted. Even church services were called off. What now?
I could have sat on my couch and wallowed, which I may have done for a day or so, but I needed to refocus. After prayer and thought, I realized that God had cleared my calendar for a reason. I was always saying that I needed to focus on building my writing career, but there were always other things that got in the way. Now my schedule was freer than it had ever been. It was the perfect opportunity to work on my cozy mystery series as well as non-fiction articles. I had tons of ideas and now I had the time to work on them. By the fall, I had published several Bible studies and essays as well as an entry in a devotional book. Then an editor showed interest in my series and offered me some mentoring toward developing it. I even had a Christmas romance novella collection published as an e-book. I went from lost in a sea of confusion to setting my sights on a path to realizing my dreams.
But, it’s not just the big changes either. In Alabama it can mean something as minute as trying to figure out how to set the thermostat or what clothes to wear when temperatures vary over 25 degrees during the course of a day. But, to live is to grow, and to grow is to change, so what’s a girl to do?
She has to learn to go with the flow of life, which is easier said than done. How do you go about that? You start with the little things. When you plan your day and circumstances intervene, take a deep breath, assess the situation, and adjust your course accordingly. If you learn to do that on a daily level, it makes bigger changes a bit easier. Notice I said easier, not easy because the bigger the change, the longer the transition. So, when life throws a curve ball or a tornado for that matter, it’s not only acceptable but also necessary to take a little time to figure out the next step.
First, take a deep breath. It is okay to hit the pause button while you try to get your bearings. However, like the pause button on my streaming service, if you leave it on long enough, it will ask you if you are still watching. The pause button is for the short term, like a bathroom break, dealing with a pet incident, or grabbing a snack. It is not a long-term solution. Once reality has settled and you have had a moment to handle the shock, you then need to see where you are.
So, the second step is to assess the situation. When you lose your way, once you get over the initial panic, you should take a look around at the landscape. Find a landmark that you recognize and use that as your guide. It may be an actual physical landmark, or it might be a person, or your faith. You just need something to ground you, a fixed point to work from, so that you know where you are.
Planning is the third step. Once you have figured out where you are, then you have to figure out where you want to go and adjust accordingly. If you are still going to the same destination, identify what you need to do to get there. If the destination has changed, then adjust your course. It’s not easy, but beginning to take action will ease anxiety and get you moving in the right direction.
Life is full of seasons of change, but each season has its beauties. The morning of the storm I went out to my car and saw that my irises had bloomed. I stopped to take a picture. Even in the stormiest moments of life, there is beauty to be found if we will look for it.
Linda Lyle is a writer, knitter, and single mama to two crazy cats. Her latest novel, A Christmas by Any Other Name, released in November, and you can find her on Facebook at @lindalylewrites or on her blog At the End of My Yarn.