The car’s packed and we’re heading down the road to new adventures! …I remember my anticipation as a teen going off to college. Along with some normal anxiety, I looked forward to having my own schedule and being able to make my own decisions. I was free to strike out on my own. Free to be me… Rather a scary thought as I look back on that, but my parents and others had prepared me well and my faith in God was real and strong. Growing and maturing is an important step in life.
Free to be. Free to make choices. Free to consider future and present actions… But isn’t it also easy during that pursuit to become too self-focused, missing out on the richness and satisfaction of reaching outward in service and in working with others? We’ve all heard the clamor of the world. “He said…” “She did…” “That’s a lie…” “You deserve…” Perhaps I am just more aware as I’ve gotten older, but selfishness often seems to be encouraged. Talking at once seems to be the norm. People loudly espouse their agenda, poisonous words tearing others apart, hurting and demeaning everyone.
As I discovered during my college days, along with freedom comes new responsibility, greater accountability and consideration of others. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.” * In our freedom, I pray that we will remember the element of respect, building up and caring for others, rather than tearing down and destroying.
Of encouragement to me is the observation that when we face common challenges or tragedies, we begin to gain a sense of our shared humanity. When we take time to notice and acknowledge people as important and valued, then differing perspectives, needs, or goals no longer seem as significant. When we reconsider harsh words, there are fewer times to regret. When we choose positive actions, then growth and reconciliation are made possible. When we allow change in our own thinking and perspective, we discover room for compassion.
• Select the best ingredients for life • A little salt improves taste • Tasting is discovery • Careful blending produces goodness • Adding character brings positive variety • Each variety has something to offer • Variety and unity are possible and desirable • Joining seasonings produces great things • Fellowship is important for growth and encouragement • Positive accomplishment is satisfying
Brrr!! The calendar says springtime, but cold rain, sleet, and snow have been falling! Some people find the cold season invigorating. For me, those first buds and sprouts are a promise that warmer days are coming and with that promise comes anticipation. Even as the earth stirs as from sleep, I too stir… contemplating the year ahead and the winter past. It reminds me of some verses from a seldom read passage in the Song of Solomon, which my father loved: For lo, the winter is past. The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
I look forward to new opportunities and growth, windows open wide to greet fresh air, and summer gardens and lawns. Even the responsibilities of work, church, and family seem more enjoyable. It is easier to turn loose of the “stuff” that tends to pile up during cold, lonely, or difficult seasons. When faced with challenging times, my mom would often say, “this too shall pass” … and she was right! Even as winter passes into springtime, so life moves on. Mom’s reminder and optimism was much appreciated, not that all would always turn out as wished but that we can be assured that God would get us through.
How my impatient or hurting self sometimes struggled to see that though. It is in more recent years that I have come to better experience the peace God provides for each day. Snow melts and sunshine warms! That’s why I love the springtime. Flowers appear. Singing comes. Life is renewed.
*Song of Solomon 2:11-12 (also known as the Song of Songs)
• We all feel a bit rolled about sometimes. • As we roll about, we accumulate stuff. • That accumulated stuff contributes to our formation. • As we are formed and grow, wondrous things can develop. • Development comes individually and with others. • Much enjoyment can be had when friends create new things together. • Added accessories increase appeal and develop personality. • Materials needed for use may be seasonal. • Each season brings its own appeal. • Simple pleasures and activities bring joy. • A snowman’s stay, although short, brings smiles to others. • A smiling face lifts one’s spirit.