I have to be honest. Actually, fall is my favorite season.
When these old hills and hollows are awash with saffron, red, and orange, there’s nothing more beautiful…except maybe the month of spring.
I can think of only one time I wished fall would hurry and pass—when color gave way to dormant browns and grays and stayed that way, at least in my world, for almost a year.
It was the fall I turned twelve. That fall my family moved to the northern part of the state, far away from our Mayberry-like community where everybody knew everybody and a kind word and a nod were the order of the day.
This new town—the place our family now called home in light of my father’s recent job transfer—was a fry cry from our beloved Mayberry.
If you’ve missed my previous posts, you’ll want to catch up before continuing with this last installment of my spring series.
You can start here:
- Exhausted? Buckle Up, Spring is Coming.
- Spring is Coming (Part Two)
- When Spring Came With Growing Pains (Part Three)
You may remember in Part Three, we’d arrived in our new town. We’d settled into a routine, or a semblance of one. The adjustment didn’t come without difficulties or growing pains.
“It’ll get better, ” Daddy said, as he did quite often. “By spring, you’ll have made lots of new friends.”
I wanted to believe him. Needed to believe him. Because at twelve, friends in this town—in this cold, austere place up north—seemed very much in short supply. Even Mrs. L, my new sixth grade teacher, immediately disliked me.
For whatever reason, we just did not hit it off.
Mrs. L never smiled and rarely offered a kind word. She wore a pinched expression and often worked her upper lip, as if deep in thought. Looking back, she was probably late forties, but her demeanor and countenance mimicked that of a prune-faced geriatric.
Every day she doled out orders and assignments in rote-like fashion, many times without so much as a backward glance.
“School isn’t a happy place. You’re here to learn.”
I wondered if this sunless, soulless woman had ever known joy.
Had she ever been kissed?
Had a hug?
Had someone to love her?
When my parents asked me at supper how my day went, ever the Pollyanna, I ticked off the positives. “The classroom radiators worked today. We had cookies with lunch. The restrooms had toilet paper. Mrs. L laughed.”
Of course, I could have added more.
The classroom radiators always worked. But Mrs. L holds them hostage at will and whim.
Yes, there’d been cookies. They were from the same batch the school served last week…and mine had a dead fly in it.
The restrooms always had toilet paper. Locked safely in a wall cabinet.
Mrs. L did laugh. At another student’s expense to another teacher. (One guess who the student was.)
And so the days dragged by.
One by one by one.
Mama left the house early each morning to head to her job in another town. Daddy would then take Sis and I to school and head to his job. After school, my sister and I would walk home, weather permitting. We’d catch up on the day’s events, and as big sis, I offered comfort and encouragement.
“It’ll be better soon. Christmas will be here in a few months, and then spring. Then summer vacation. Think of all the fun we’ll have.”
I’d just turned twelve. Sis was seven.
The move had been hard on her, too. She no longer had a bounce in her step or that mischievous glint in her eye. Even teasing her didn’t garner the same reaction that it once had. And she’d developed a new habit—sleepwalking.
It was worrisome, given the fact we had basement stairs, and a few times she’d even tried to go outside.
Besides the stress of the move, a new school and a new town, our rental house troubled us. It was nice enough, the rooms airy and large with beautiful hardwood floors, and there was a generous screened-in side-porch.
The house had some other unique features—knotted pine walls in some areas of the basement and laundry area, a fair-sized kitchen and dining room with some built-ins for dishes and china.
The home of a soap opera star’s aging mother, the house had been well-tended. Cleanliness wasn’t the issue.
On the surface, the house appeared fine—charming, even. White stucco with green shutters and a fair-sized yard, it seemed to have a lot going for it. (The house was to be a temporary living situation while my parents explored other housing options down the road.)
The house seemed to mirror the town. It seemed unhappy.
There were odd noises, strange occurrences, and some additional chill-worthy moments. One day, for instance, we came home to our screened-in porch filled with dozens of dead birds. Another day, my sister and I walked in after school to find our living room television set turned on with the back door wide open.
Gradually, the stress and strain began to wear on our family.
Daddy’s jovial “It’ll be better by spring” took on a new tone. “I’m going to apply for a transfer back closer to home. I want everyone to pray.”
And believe you me, pray we did.
Christmas came and went. Spring came…and went.
And then summer.
Almost a year to the day, Daddy received word there was an opening for a similar state position in the southwest corner of the state. Our season had come!
We moved again in the fall, to the town where Sis and I would ultimately finish out our education. Not a Mayberry—and still a three-hour drive from our old hometown—but a pleasant community far away from the place that drained our joy and rocked our mindset.
That fall became our spring. Not our timing, but God’s.
The experience grew our faith and developed our mettle.
Today, if you’re facing a difficult season or situation, I want to encourage you to dig in your heels and hold on. Your spring is coming, my friend.
Sometimes, things don’t happen in the way we plan, dream, or hope. Sometimes, circumstances are wretched and beyond our comprehension. And sometimes, too, harsh seasons teach us life-changing lessons and grow us where God wants us to be.
It’s during these moments—these soul-wrenching seasons—that we defy probability with God-sized possibility.
May not be popular.
May not be rational.
For he will command his angels concerning you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone…
Psalm 91:11-12 (NIV)
Sometimes, our new season comes in ways we don’t plan, dream, or hope. What hard times teach us.
Going through a tough period? Encouragement for your season.
What has a tough season taught you?
Do you feel you’re stronger for it?
Thanks so much for joining me today!
This was a difficult series to write, as I had to dig deep and venture into a painful life season. I hope it blessed you ~