For Every Purpose Under Heaven

…there is a time!

In Ecclesiastes 3 (I hear The Byrds: Turn, Turn, Turn every time I read this passage!) it is written…

A Time for Everything
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (New Living Translation courtesy of http://www.biblegateway.com)

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.  A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.  A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.  A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.  A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to quit searching.  A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.  A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate.  A time for war and a time for peace.”

I so often forget this.  In a society that prizes productivity, and in a being that has learned to adopt this perspective very well (me), it is so easy for me to forget that taking the time to rest, time to be quiet, time to cry, time to throw away, time to quit searching, time to heal — that taking the time for each of these is incredibly important.

Interestingly enough, the first step that Bridges proposes (in Transitions: Making the Most of Life’s Changes) is: take your time! He writes, “…our lives can change in an instant, but the inner reorientation…takes time.  This does not mean that everything must come to a total standstill while you wait for self-renewal…it means that you cannot rush the inner process…”

journeyoflifetamijo.blogspot.com designed this card and blogged about her struggle with trust and impatience -- what a beautiful Go-to destressor

So what does this look like?  Again — for all of us it’s different.  For me it means being more patient with myself, being more patient with life, and more patient, especially, with God.

True Story.  I recently joined a Women’s Bible Study, and our latest theme is faith.  As an exercise to get us going, we were asked to “blindly” select an item from a bag, pull it out, and take the time to reflect on how that item is an illustration of faith, our own faith journey, or what we currently feel about faith.  I pulled out a clock.  Of course.

In many regards, I have no connections whatsoever with instruments of time.  I don’t wear watches, often don’t pay attention to them when I do, was a horrible History student (all those dates), and even in my own life — can rarely tell you when events have taken place (am pretty good with birthdays and anniversaries — those are the biggies).  As I sat staring at this wall clock in my hand I was seriously thinking, “what in the world am I going to do with this?”  I prayed, asked for some openness, as well as some wisdom.  Then I got to thinking.

I am a life-planner.  This is beyond goal-oriented — this is trying to control with a capital “C”.  I often pictured that I’d graduate high school, graduate college, be married by age 25, having my first child by around 28 at the latest, and graduating with a Master’s by 30.  My 29th birthday was a real shocker — let me tell you — unmarried, childless, and not even enrolled in a graduate program.  Yikes!  Life has thrown me a few curve balls and I’m learning to deal.  So, as I was sitting there, wall clock in hand, I realized, although I am not tied to the clock in the “need to finish writing this post in one hour” sense, I am very much connected to it in the “my life will reach this point by this date in time” regard.  And, obviously, it doesn’t work that way.

Kelly at mybucketoverfloweth.blogspot.com designed this card as a reminder to herself that even when life is in limbo, patience is a virtue, and there are great rewards when we trust

So how does this impact my faith?  It’s at these epiphanous (like my new word) moments in time when I have to take my life out of my hands, move it off my clock, and put it back in the hands of my Creator, and trust in His clock, and in His time.  This does pretty much guarantee lots of uncertainty, many more twists and turns, and life going very unexpectedly, but if the hindsight back on my life is any sign — good things lie ahead when I do so.

So if this means, taking a day to lie in bed and grieve, allowing myself to cry at random moments, ignoring my phone for some quiet alone time, or even spending an afternoon in escape with Drop Dead Diva (thank you, friend, for lending these), then so be it — for every purpose under Heaven, there is a time!

When Life Gets Mean…and the Go-to’s Are Gone

Let’s face — life can be downright mean. Life doesn’t discriminate, it just doles out the ugliness to any and all of us.  Irregardless of who we are, who we were born to, what we believe in, how much money we make, what we look like, where we live, where we’re from, who we do or don’t work for — it does not matter.  At some point we may experience grieving a loved one, losing a job, losing our home, losing our health, financial insecurity,  you name it — at one time or another we will experience the “meanness” of life.

Julie @ stampedinhisimage.blogspot.com created this card to remind us that when life is tough, mean, and ugly - we can choose to seek the beauty in it - beautiful reminder

Confession: life has been particularly mean to me over the past couple of months (yes, this is why I haven’t been writing).  I won’t go into details now — maybe later — but I know that we all experience pain, loss, suffering; I know I’m not alone in this.

JensCupofCreations.blogspot.com designed this lovely and cheery card, but it carries a powerful sentiment (see inside picture)

So, what do we do about it?  How do we manage?  Prayer, exercise, relationships, crying, music, food, sleep, shopping, writing…these are only some of the billions upon billions of the go-to’s that we might use to handle our burdens.  We all know we’re incredibly, delightfully, sometimes-annoyingly different, so obviously we don’t handle life stresses in the same way either.  However, those sage advisors out there do have their few words.  When a former colleague of mine found out that I had been laid off he recommended an author and a couple of titles for me.  One of those is Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges.

Some of Transitions feels utterly obvious, but at the same time sometimes we need to slow down and remind ourselves how to crawl and how to take steps before we can walk again.  Over the next few posts I’ll be sharing some of his words of wisdom, along with some of my own personal go-to’s that I have sought (when my usual go-to’s have been unavailable to me) in this new and nested (read: when life was already mean, it got even “meaner”) time of transition.  I can only share so much of Bridges’ thoughts, I encourage you to visit your local library or bookstore for a deeper look.

"into every life a little rain must fall -- that's what makes the flowers"; Designed by jenscupofcreations.blogspot.com

I hope that by sharing in my journey, those of you out there who might also be experiencing some of life’s ugliness would be able to take heart, find comfort, and be encouraged.  After all, it is often in the most difficult of circumstances that God can shower us with the greatest blessings.

NOTE: Regarding the lovely cards you see — one of my new Go-to’s (and I’ll share more) has been visiting the blogs of lovely UnityStampCompany stampers — I was inspired and encouraged when coming across Julie’s card at http://stampedinhisimage.blogspot.com.  I encourage you to visit both.  At http://jenscupofcreations.blogspot.com I won a set of Unity stamps, and along with the goodies, Jen was kind enough to send me the adorable card “Unity Rain & Flowers” card — the beauty of her design and the encouraging words of the sentiment TOTALLY brightened my day!