Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another.
It seems like the moment I finally settle into a good rhythm or routine, there is a changing of the seasons. Something comes up that requires me, that invites me, to make adjustments.
We are contemplating a pretty big change in our family and that has left me praying about these very things. I’m thinking about priorities and schedules and what God has called us to and weighing it all before the Lord to see where He leads.
Perhaps you, too, are facing a season of change. Not just changing from winter to spring—which I know so many of us have looked forward to—but changing from one season of life to another.
- Maybe you have to start caring for an aging parent.
- Maybe your child will be starting school next year.
- Maybe you are about to change jobs or even start a new position in your current workplace.
- Maybe you’re about to move to a new house or build one of your own.
- Maybe you’re actually downsizing, getting rid of things you no longer need.
- Maybe you are starting a training program to learn more skills that will help you at home, work, or church.
- Maybe your job schedule has changed and you now have to work more nights or weekends.
The possibilities are endless. And while many of us face seasons of change at similar times, say the beginning of a school year or at the start of summer, we can be faced with these changes at any point during the year.
Sometimes we’re even faced with them unexpectedly, like when we experience the loss of a loved one or someone in our family develops health issues that require immediate care from us.
As I said, we are contemplating a pretty big change for our family, and so this has gotten me in a time of reflection and prayer about what is best and how to go about stepping into this new season. And I wanted to share some of those questions and reflections with you so that when you are experiencing a similar change, you can enter into it as thoughtfully and intentionally as you are able to—though, again, I know that sometimes we are just thrown into it without much warning.
Here are some questions I invite you to consider when you are entering a season of change.
Question 1: What (or who) is the most important thing in this season?
Question number one, what (or who) is the most important thing in this season? Now, while this kind of goes without saying, I’m still going to say it: God comes first, right? We are going to give Him the priority in every season of our life, no matter what we are facing. The way we spend time with Him might change, and the amount of time we spent intentionally with Him might change, but He comes first.
What I mean by this question is, what needs to be the focus for this season? Or, another way to look at it might be, what is causing the change for this season?
Here are some examples:
- someone needs you to physically care for them
- your child or your husband is going through a difficult season and you need and want extra time to support them
- maybe you need to focus inward for a while and draw close to the Lord
For us, the thing that is becoming more of a priority is our family time together. Looking at how we can get more time together as a family and even 1:1 time within our family to build up those relationships and support one another.
Now, sometimes this means weighing values you hold dear against one another. Both are so very important, but for this season, which is more important? We are considering the good versus the best. Again, as an example, we value both family and community. We want to support our community and be involved and impact the lives of our neighbors and church friends. Both are good! Yet sometimes, one has to take precedence over the other, at least for a season of time.
Remember good ol’ Ecclesiastes… there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3). We can’t do everything well all the time. We have to choose what gets first dibs on our energy and attention.
So what is it that is the most important thing for you in this new season? What needs to get your focus right now?
Question 2: How does that one thing impact the other things in your life?
Question number 2, how does that one thing impact the other things in your life?
So this is kind of looking at the domino effect of our choice. Because we are choosing “this,” what does it mean for everything else?
Sometimes this looks like a temporary change. You know the season is perhaps a temporary one that will only last a short amount of time, and so you make some adjustments to get you through that time.
For example, you have a baby and those first several weeks, you know you’re going to be a spending a lot of time with your baby. You’re excited about it, but you also know you’re not going to get as much sleep, or you’re not going to have as much time with your older kids, or even your husband. But you also know this is just temporary. It’s a shorter season, and the time will come when things will get back to what they used to look like (albeit, with a baby included).
Maybe you have an upcoming surgery that will require you to be on bed rest for 6 weeks. And so you might need to take time off from work, or temporarily step away from teaching Sunday school, or find someone who can help you care for your kiddos. But again, it’s only for a few weeks, and then things will return to normal.
But it might also look like a more permanent change. Maybe you are moving, maybe you or your husband are starting a new job. Maybe you are becoming the primary caregiver for a parent who is still expected to live for several more years. This is a bigger change, one that requires more permanent adjustments. Maybe they will move in with you or you’ll need to be available to take them to doctor’s appointments and such. So instead of taking a temporary leave of absence from work, you might need to step down altogether because you’re not sure what the future is going to look like or when you might be able to return.
For us, I know that this decision will impact my work schedule and the amount and type of work I am able to do. And so I’m thinking and praying about what that looks like.
This part is hard for a lot of people. We want to do it all, but my friend, we can’t. By choosing to focus on one thing, we are inevitably making decisions about everything else.
More time for this means less time for that. We could say the same for money or focus or energy. If you’re in the business world, this is what they mean by opportunity cost. If you spend your money on marketing, you can’t spend your money on training and development. It’s a choice you have to make.
So how does the one thing you identified in question one impact everything else in your life? What will need to change as a result?
Question 3: Is there anyone else you need to talk to about this?
Question number 3, is there anyone else you need to talk to about this?
Now, I know a lot of you are more introverted, like me, and like to reflect on things on your own. You need time and space to think it through, to journal it out, or to talk to yourself about it. But there are many times when we need to bring someone else into the conversation. Because our decision will likely affect others, too.
My husband and I have been talking about this potential change and what it would mean for us as a family. We’ve been going back and forth, raising questions, discussing possibilities, and things like that.
But I’ve also reached out to a few others I trust with questions. Maybe they’ve been through a similar decision and I want their thoughts and feedback. I want to make sure I’m being realistic in what I’m expecting, because sometimes we can get excited about a possibility and overlook the struggles we might face with it.
But it could also be that you’re afraid or anxious, and so you might want to talk to your small group leader, best friend, pastor, spiritual director, counselor, coach… You might need to talk with someone from church who will need to fill in for you for a while, or at least to your supervisor or ministry leader to see if they have options you may not have thought about. For example, maybe there’s a chance for you to take an extended leave from work, one that you know your job will be there waiting for you when you get back, and you weren’t expecting that.
Or maybe your decision will literally impact your extended family, and so talking with them about what you’re thinking about doing or what’s going to be coming and how it affects them is really important. You don’t want to spring something on them if you don’t have to.
So who is someone that you might want to talk to about this upcoming change?
Question 4: Is there anything you can do to prepare for this change?
And question number four, is there anything you can do to prepare for this change?
One of my spiritual direction clients and I are thinking about this very thing, she in her situation and I in mine. We believe a change is coming, but it’s not quite time yet. What might it look like for us to prepare for it?
For example, maybe, financially, you need to be saving money for when you will have a break from work, like for an extended maternity leave or to recover from a surgery. Maybe you want to explore childcare options if you have to return to work or turn your attention toward caring for an aging parent. Perhaps you need to research something (I’m a big researcher!) so you can be better informed and prepared to face whatever is coming your way.
But maybe you actually need to consider and pray through a belief you hold or a feeling you are experiencing. Because maybe, just maybe, something is getting in between you and God with this “thing” that has come up and taken priority and requiring you to make all these adjustments. Maybe you’re frustrated that you’re the one who has to be responsible for this. Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed with it all. Maybe you think, “God says He cares about me but He feels so distant right now. If He really cared, wouldn’t He do something?”
Whatever it is, maybe you need time to bring that before the Lord and sort that out with Him. And that is one way you can prepare for the change ahead. The preparation needs to happen in your heart, in your spirit, in your mind.
So ask yourself, is there anything I can do to prepare for this change, whether that’s something practical or something inside of you.
Okay, so those are four questions you can consider when seasons change and you have to make adjustments.
- What (or who) is the most important thing in this season?
- How does that one thing impact the other things in your life?
- Is there anyone else you need to talk to about this?
- Is there anything you can do to prepare for this change?
Take some time to work through those questions. Think about it while you take a walk. Write it down, use lists or bullet points, whatever works for you. And really take the time to practice reflection and prayer. Take these things to the Lord and ask Him to guide you, especially when it comes to those first and last questions: what is the most important thing in this season and is there anything you can do to prepare?
And know that if there is any way I can support you, I’d love to hear. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, my name is spelled K-A-R-I.
Okay, my friends, that’s all for today. Until next time…
- Episode 2: Discerning Who to Encourage
- Episode 24: An Example in Spiritual Discernment and Decision Making: Going “All In” With Love Does That
- Episode 48: The Power of Pre-Deciding in Difficult Seasons
INTERESTED IN WRITTEN SPIRITUAL DIRECTION?
I’d be honored to walk with you through a difficult season and help you discover God’s presence and work in your life.