I don't like fall.
Now I realize that I'm in the minority here. Most don't care for intense heat of summer and are happy when the days start to shorten, the nights begin to cool down, and the leaves commence to change colours. Many go so far as to say that fall is their favorite season of the year, and nearly everyone I know raves about how beautiful the trees are in their fall colours.
My problem is that I don't see any of that. Being a California girl by birth, I love summer, and I hate winter. Whenever I see the leaves begin to be tainted with any colour but green, I realize that my favorite season is about to come to an end, and my worst nightmare is about to begin. Now I know that fall and winter are far from the same; but to me, the one is just the Segway into the other and I could do without both of them. As a result, I've spent many a fall in the thralls of depression.
One September, as I was driving back home from a community about two hours to the north, I saw a garden centre in the distance. I knew from my northward journey that same morning that this particular garden centre was having a sale on garden mums, one of the most popular fall flowers of our area. Now I've never liked mums, for they are too much of a reminder of fall! But something compelled me to stop that day, and before it was all said and done, I had bought about 12 pots of them.
You should have seen my husband's face when I got home. "But you don't even LIKE mums!" Yes, he knows me well...
"I'm going to put them out on the deck!" I declared. "All my Spring flowers are gone for the season, and this year I'm going to surround myself with Fall flowers!"
You know what? It actually worked. I made an effort to go out and admire my mums nearly every day, and somehow the Winter didn't seem nearly as close.
Every year since then I've surrounded myself with mums in the Fall. And I've taken it a step farther. I've also started to make myself admire the trees, and those same trees that had been so depressing in years past now seemed vibrantly beautiful. And when I see the sun setting as I'm driving home from work at 4:30 pm, I take a moment to admire those fiery fingers of soft colours. Oh, the temptation is still there to think, "the sun is setting so early...It will be winter soon!" or "These leaves sure are changing fast this year...Sure sign of a long winter!" But with God's help, I'm learning to focus on God's handiwork instead of on the drop in temperature and the shortening days. Hey! I'm even learning to appreciate the pure white blanket of winter's first snow and the dazzling sculptures left behind by an ice storm!
Life offers us seasons as well. We all wish we could live in the preferable one–the ones without problems; but just like it isn't summer forever in Canada (for which I know many of you are thankful!), life is not always carefree. However, no matter what season of life you find yourself in, you have a choice to make. You can either focus on the bad or on the good.
You see, just like God put one of the prettiest times of the year just in front of Winter and uses the ice and wind and snow to sculpt priceless works of beauty, no matter how had times are, there are always good things as well. We have the choice of either focusing on the good things--or on the bad!
The Bible has some excellent advice for us when we find ourselves in tough times: "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things." (Phil 4:8)
No, meditating on the things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy will not change the facts, but it will do something vitally important: It will serve to remind you that God is the rock you can always cling to. It will allow you to see the small joys that do still surround you. It will help you to understand that you have not been abandoned and forsaken, but rather, God is holding you up, holding you together, carrying you through.
Hard times creeping in? Perhaps it's time to go buy some mums...
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.