We find ourselves today in the middle of the wonderful season known as summer. For most, this is cause for great rejoicing because, generally speaking, summer is jam-packed with fun. Indeed, summer means a temporary end to classes & homework & projects & all-nighters. It's the time for fun & sun, for friends & family, all away from the stress of school.
But for some people, the fact that summer means an absence of school is more than a little unpleasant to hear. For some of us during the school year, summer loomed ahead as far more than an absence from classes. It's also an absence from of lot of the deep friendships you've established, from two hour lunch conversations in the Caf, as well as from countless midnight Whataburger, Krispe Kream, or Waffle House runs. To some people, summer means pausing so much goodness, certainly for more goodness of a different sort, but to what avail?
Confession: I happen to have been one of those people. I say “have been” because thankfully I don’t feel that way anymore & I say “those people” truly because I don’t think I was alone in my sentiments toward summer. Maybe it’s rare to feel this way about summer particularly, but I don't think it's too uncommon to dread a change in your season of life.
In my case, the summer after my freshman year looked to be wonderful, but so much of me was desperately holding onto my time in college & everything that went with it. My excitement for the next season that God had in store for me was overshadowed by a desire to keep everything just the way it was. The reality was that I didn’t want to say goodbye to what had become normal. I felt like so many good things were just beginning & it felt pointless to have to stop them just to spend a couple months having summertime. In my mind, summer was bookended by what really mattered. I had myself convinced that summertime was an unimportant “in-between” & honestly, I just didn’t want to leave what I had grounded myself in because I didn’t trust that I could flourish anywhere else.
I was overwhelmed by these feelings. They were contradictory, excitement & elation battling dread & disappointment, & they robbed me of joy.
Then walking back to my dorm late one night about a week from the end of the semester, I had a short but meaningful conversation with a friend who told me quite a lot in just a little. He first mentioned how much he disliked the word “goodbye” in comparison to its Spanish equivalent. “Adios” literally translates into English as “to God.” When exchanged, it means that I bid you to go to God & you bid me to go to God. There is no real farewell because there is no real separation among believers connected by the Holy Spirit. I had never thought about that word in that manner before & it was such a blessing to hear. He then encouraged me by pointing out that no matter how intensely a time can seem pointless, God always has a reason. He’s always sustaining, always present in that season. Whether or not you’re looking forward to a time, or whether or not you can see its purpose during it, there always is a reason for that time.
The thing is that God cares about the “in-betweens.” That’s what I had such trouble understanding, but He ordains everything we view as important, as well as all the time between that we look over. There is no time in life that He does not care deeply about & plan painstakingly just for you. The times between good seasons are also good, however different they are from what you consider normal, simply because they are what He has given you for that time.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Solomon writes,
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven; a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
These instances, laughing & embracing alongside breaking down & mourning, are all seasons of human life. They are part of what it means to truly exist. However, while it’s quite obvious to notice the opposite extremes, loving & hating, weeping & laughing, the first verse is vital to understanding the passage in its entirety. There is “a time for every matter under heaven.” There's no skipping between the time for loving & the time for hating. There are the “in-betweens” & even they have their time.
In my experience, I think it can be really easy to get stuck in a rut in life & think it’s the best place in the world. It has the semblance of safety & security because it’s what you’re currently in. I felt like I had no need to leave college my freshman year; I had no need for a change from the comfort of a situation I was enjoying. I was content to be stuck in a moment & never leave it. But Ecclesiastes has even more to say about the seasons of life:
“Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this” (7:10).
Solomon stresses the importance of not living a life looking backwards. It is inevitable that life moves forward; thus, this summer you have a choice to cherish the memories made & purposefully make more where you are, or to be distracted from all that is before you while living in regret that a season of life has ended. Simply put, there is a wise choice & there is a foolish one. Stagnation is never what God intends for us; rather He brings us into seasons of change to grow us immeasurably & to reveal His kingdom in our lives.
So now I invite you to welcome this season of life. Be joyfully expectant of what goodness God will give to you in the now, for there can be nothing but joy in His presence, no matter what the world tells you you're missing out on. Summer isn’t a pause to goodness; it’s just another occasion for you to experience the Father’s goodness. It is far from an inconsequential time; it is an important “in-between” in which God has much planned. So then say “goodbye” to no one, only “adios.”
On that note, adios!