‘Tis the Season for Solitude

I was scrolling through Facebook last week, avoiding emails and grown-up responsibilities, when I came across a post by Jen Hatmaker that, true to form, hit the nail on the head. “Be patient with yourself. Nothing in nature blooms all year.” It’s like she can read my mind, because the timing of her messages always seems to align with my station in life. She. Is. Awesome. I kind of want to be her if and when I grow up. But I digress.

I needed to hear that message right when I did, and based on the responses, I wasn’t alone. Sometimes coming up for air to create seems out of reach, and even worse, it feels like it will always be that way.

Life definitely operates in seasons. I didn’t realize until, well, today, just how often I go “underground.” For me, that usually means 100 percent, blinders-on focus on the must-dos in life: feed the kids, work, do the laundry, feed the kids, wash the dishes, drive the kids, feed the kids, sleep, wake, repeat. It’s super glamorous and not at all monotonous.

But from the outside looking in, it seems like I’m ignoring phone calls and texts, avoiding social interaction, and allowing my creativity to become stagnant.

Lucky for me, living in a small town almost ensures I’ll never go totally missing in action, as I still have to go to the grocery store. After all, those kids have to eat! It usually takes me running into my next-door neighbor at Kroger before I realize just how much of a hermit I’ve been. “I have to come all the way to the grocery store to see you!” I’ve heard that more than a few times. My husband made the mistake of pointing out that I “need to get out of the house,” which ultimately led to him getting out of the house to avoid hearing me rant about my litany of reasons why I’ve successfully attained vampire status and desperately need some Vitamin D. As my daughter told me last week, my legs are “whiter than sour cream.”

The only thing more glaring than the white of my skin is that list I throw at my husband when he dares to suggest I get a change of scenery. I don’t know who finds that whiney list more annoying – him or me? The minute I start saying it, I feel like I’m justifying my reclusive lifestyle in my own mind more than I am for him, which ends up just ticking me off even more. He didn’t even ask for a reason, after all. He just asked me to go to dinner. Rationalization is followed by doubt and self-criticism, until I actually start to believe that I AM being an anti-social slacker. Meanwhile, the kids still need food and I need a shower, so it’s onward with the daily grind, tunnel vision, and unreturned phone calls.

And it keeps going like this, well, until it doesn’t anymore. A season is named as such for a reason – it passes. And it’s all absolutely OK.

A friend stopped by the house today, probably because it’s the only way she can actually reach me during my hibernation, and we got on the topic of the seasons of life. It was clear to me that she thought her season was an extended and eternal winter, and that the winds of change would only blow her over rather than bring about the renewal of spring. You see, hard times, and even quiet times, seem like they will last forever. Sometimes when things are so challenging, we can only see the challenge and not the change it’s bringing. My beloved grandmother, in her infinite wisdom, used to tell me, “This too shall pass.” As much as I adored her, when it came to advice, I thought she was an old lady full of silly clichés she invented to deal with the trials of life. She must’ve read the skepticism on my face, because she also told me to “Never doubt an old lady.” She was absolutely right about both.

We all have our struggles, big and small, but none of them are permanent.

For the new parents whose baby won’t sleep through the night, I know you are convinced you will never sleep again. You will. This too shall pass.

For the high school graduate unsure of his direction, you don’t have to figure it all out right now. Keep working hard. This uncertainty will pass.

For the mom whose baby just had yet another surgery, recovery feels miles away. It’s not. Hang in there. This too shall pass.

For the friend who’s been betrayed, you think you’ll never trust again. You will. This too shall pass.

For the friend who betrayed, I know you feel isolated. You’re not. This too shall pass.

For those dealing with loss, it feels as if the void will never be filled. You will find healing. This too shall pass.

For the mom whose efforts appear to go unnoticed, they do not. Your kids are watching, and they appreciate you. This too shall pass.

It’s ok to go underground. In fact, it’s necessary. Sometimes you have to put the phone on silent just to get through an hour-long task. Other times, you need extended quiet and solitude to allow for healing. Don’t fault yourself for taking a step back, and don’t fault others for needing the same. Growth and clarity follow challenges. Allow each season to fulfill its purpose, even if that purpose isn’t yet clear to you.

 

 

 

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