Eric and I began officially dating on June 11th, 2004, and we got married on June 11th, 2005; so, we decided to have a “Four Seasons” theme for our wedding. In our reception, we had one table with Spring foods, one table with Summer foods, one table with Autumn foods, and one table with Winter foods. The space between our wedding cake tiers were filled in with silk flowers that represented each season.
When I think about the changing seasons, it makes me think about the changing seasons of our lives: the newborn baby who “hatches” in the spring; the college student and newlywed basking in the summer sun; the fall mother who is raising stubborn teenagers yet dreading empty nest syndrome; and, finally, those who have toiled for years and are now resting in front of the fire during the wintery season of their lives.
Have the changing seasons ever made you think about the different seasons we go through in our relationships? How do the changing seasons compare to the changes we experience in marriage?
The Spring of a relationship is filled with new excitement, new adventure, and a lot of learning. Just like baby animals on the farm have to grow and learn, so do newlyweds. Have you ever watched a newborn animal stumble around and flop to the ground? It is adorable, is it not? Just as babies everywhere have to learn to walk, feed themselves, and communicate, so do newlyweds.
When a couple first gets married, they have to get use to each other’s rhythm. At first, they bump into each other a lot – literally and metaphorically. When Eric and I were a new couple, our steps were not in sync with each other’s; but, after several years together, we walk side by side with ease.
In much the same way, we bumped into each other’s nerves a lot in the beginning too. We were learning to live in the same house. I wanted to shove the dishes in the dishwasher and hope for the best. He wanted to place each dish in so as to maximize cleaning potential. I wanted to play all the time and he wanted to work all the time.
Even though we were learning and trudging through growing pains, our relationship was still young and full of potential. Everything may be new and confusing in spring-time, but it is also a sunny, warm, and joyful time of year.
Summertime. This is when life heats up! Spring was great, but now the bills are pouring in, newborns are wailing, and the work never seems to end. “Why, why did we rush through the springtime?” As the summer sun beats down on the tired couple, they dream about milder weather and less responsibilities…
But… as their little ones sleep, they peek in their rooms and marvel at the amazing lives God has entrusted to them. Even though the spring was easier, they admit that summer is not half-bad either. Sure, there is more work and more frustration, but there are also more rewards.
Fall is what we earn for making it through the summer. ~smile~ The days start getting shorter and the crazy heat subsides.
The same couple who was so tired and burned during the summer has started to feel a bit more comfortable. Their kids need them less in some ways and more in others. Instead of feeding them mashed peas, they are feeding them good advice.
The bills are still coming in, but they earned and invested a lot in the summer, and now the financial burden isn’t quite so intense. Instead of rushing from one activity to the next, this couple, now with a little gray around their temples, finds time to relax on the front porch after a long day at work. Retirement is on the horizon, and they enjoy talking about what trips they will take when they have more free time.
With a knot in their stomach and tears in their eyes, they pack their youngest child up and take her to college. As they drive away they both remember the first time they saw her, and they cannot believe how quickly she grew up.
Retirement comes. They travel to almost all of their dream locations. Yet, when it gets really quiet in the still of the night, they both secretly wish they could live just a few more days in the summer heat, kiss one more boo boo, and sing one more lullaby.
The fall air is clean, crisp, and delightful. Soaking it in brings up all kinds of memories.
They don’t travel much anymore, but they look forward to visits from their children and grandchildren. They enjoy sitting in front of the fire and reading together. He looks up and gives her a wink. She giggles. For a moment, they remember what it was like back in the Spring when everything was new.
Their kids have been good to them. They hired someone to come in and clean; and, thanks to a home nurse, neither of them have to move into a nursing home. The cold aggravates their joints, but they try not to complain. Life used to be easier, but they would not trade their wisdom for “better” days.
As they watch their grandchildren play, they realize that nothing they could leave behind is more important than the legacy they will leave with them. So, they tell them stories about their life. They give them the kind of timely, solid advice only a grandparent can give. They rock them, sing to them, cherish them, and pray for them. They are holding all they ever worked for in their arms.
Night comes early now. Some days even walking from one room to the next wears them out, but they take one step at a time. As they lie in bed at night, they dream of Spring time, and they know that before long they will be basking in the Spring warmth again. It is just a matter of time…
Each season comes with its share of problems and blessings. The spring pollen makes us sneeze, and the spring grass grows an inch an hour, but the air is warm and comforting, and the bright sky fills us with hope.
The Summer is hot and filled with thunderstorms and hurricanes, but it also brings us vacations, lazy beach days, and breezy summer nights!
Autumn shortens our days and fills our yards with piles of leaves to rake, but it also gives us rest from the heat, pumpkins to carve, and Thanksgiving to celebrate!
Winter… what can we say about winter? It chills us to the bone. It covers our blue skies with a gray film. It kills our flowers and grass. But, winter brings us beautiful snow, sledding, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and the thrill of cuddling in front of the fireplace.
Every season of our relationships will have pros and cons. No matter what season you are walking through right now, you can find reasons to complain or reasons to rejoice. I would encourage you to bravely tackle the problems, but to focus on the blessings each season brings.
Each season is bound to bring us some heartaches and challenges, but our attitudes about them will determine how we remember each season. Which season is your relationship in now, and what blessings are you experiencing?