by Cathee Poulsen
Seasons! You are probably in one right now that is shifting. You just packed his suitcase, loaded the car and drove him off to college. You knew this day would come and now it’s here and you’re holding back tears.
Or maybe it’s that little one trucking off the kindergarten, your closest friend moving out of town, a job you need to leave. Good things in and of themselves, but each one a death of a season that’s over.
One of those moments is lodged deep in my soul and thinking of it today—55 years later—tears spring quickly. I’ve just unloaded my slate blue American Tourister luggage and set up my dorm room with red plaid bedspread and curtains. I’m standing on the steps of Bryan Hall at FSU and giving my parents a final hug. As they get back in the Chevy Belair and start down the winding driveway, all of us waving like crazy, I’m doing my best to choke back the emotions but tears course down.
In that moment, I experience maybe the most dramatic shift I’ll ever have. Such a mix of elation over being on my own and the sheer terror of not having my parents to fall back on every day.
Here’s the thing—every change is a form of loss. And if it’s a big deal to you, it’s a big deal. The ministry we are about to launch, with the release of Texas’ book, is all about changing seasons and how even one small change can make a radical difference.
But today I’d like to focus on what happens when we aren’t willing to move on, to let go. When we stay too long.
We are Not Able to BE PRESENT
This summer I encountered the disturbance of discovering that a dear friend was secretly a hoarder. When she became ill and ultimately died, I went into her home and found living conditions that were not only deplorable, but brought such a heavy sadness to me.
I knew her well enough to understand that she had clung to a season she deemed the high point of her life. When the season shifted, probably 25 years ago, clinging to the past became clinging to everything. This also translated into not letting go of physical things, and so she collected everything imaginable until you couldn’t walk through the house without tripping over all sorts of stuff.
She lost the joy of the present moment.
We Cling When We Need to Let Go
The morning of Jesus’ resurrection, the first person to speak with Him was Mary Magdalene (John 20:16,17). The conflicted woman out of whom Jesus had removed seven demons. Supposing Him to be the garden guy she spoke to Him, but when He called her by name, she knew it was Jesus. She ran to grab Him and He spoke words that seemed harsh and cold. “Mary, don’t cling to me.”
Maybe she was thinking, “You’re back. We can all pick up where we left off. We’ll get the crew back together.” But Jesus, in essence, was saying, “It’s a new day, Mary. That season has passed and you need to let it go now.”
It’s human nature to want to go back to the way things were. When your kids were little and chicken pox or buying school supplies were the challenge of the day.
The Liminal Space Between Then and Next
When one season ends, but it doesn’t feel like the next one has begun, you’re in the liminal space. The limen is that part of the doorway we know as the threshold. The place between the already and the not yet. Don’t move too quickly through that time. It can turn out to be magical.
It’s a time of uncertainty and often discomfort. But it is precisely right here that we can take time to reflect on what is going on with us. Great wisdom often comes to us in this very spot, so don’t rush through it.
Here are a few things to do while you’re in the liminal space of the threshold. The edge of something brand new:
- Take time to grieve the death of the passing season. If you don’t, it will just be somewhere down in there. It’s over. Say goodbye.
- Recap what you learned about yourself in that season. Even if it was horrifying, you learned some important things. Thank God for them.
- Know that you don’t always have to leave when things are bad. Sometimes you just know it’s over, even though everything’s good. Be brave enough to leave once you realize that. Some good things just come to an end.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
When you stay in a season too long, what should have been a graduation can become a divorce. Often we’re afflicted with WBS – warm, body syndrome – and get comfortable with a relationship just because it’s someone to come home to.
The prize, for any Jesus-follower, is our life hid with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). Living fully, able to enjoy this moment and be thankful for it—no matter what it looks like—and to turn towards what He’s about to present as the new season.
Celebrate this present season, but when it’s time to let it go, do so anticipating the challenge of the emerging new season that your good, good Father is bringing you.