“But it’s actually possible to wait, celebrating each season as it comes, not fretting about it being absent at all other times because something else good is at hand.” Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Vegetable Miracle
When I came across these lines in my book this afternoon, I froze in the middle of the page. It felt like a personal invitation: so intentionally handwritten. I had to re-read it about ten times before I felt the need to put my book down and think about what it meant in my life. This simple sentence completely changed the trajectory of my day, and ironically I don’t think it had any intention of being profound. In fact, Barbara Kingsolver wasn’t talking about my life – or life at all – when she wrote that line. She was talking about vegetables. I kid you not! The book I’m reading is about a family’s yearlong adventure living on a farm, and that particular chapter is about America’s fascination with consuming a variety of out of season vegetables year round in place of an abundance of seasonal produce when it is due. It’s one thing to be stopped dead in your tracks by a book that your expecting to help you grow, but the only thing that I was expecting to learn in this story was the difference between heirloom and organic tomatoes and why we should all eat local produce.
That’s why God is so cool. He speaks to us in such unimportant and obscure moments if we are just willing to listen for them. He comes to us in strangers, and songs on the radio, and sunrises and books about farming. His creativity and intentionality blows me away each day, and the lesson he is teaching me today is too good to not share.
This book is reminding me that when it comes to life, my natural tendency is to live like the American vegetable consumer, but instead of wanting spinach in the middle of December I’m always wanting to be in a different season of my life. I struggle so hard with being content where I am, and it’s something I have been trying to work on lately. Instead of sitting in my problems and just accepting the bitter that comes with the sweetness of life, I wish away entire seasons and tell myself “Things will be better when…” When I was in high school, things would be better at college. When I was in college, things would be better during the summer. During the summer, things would be better if I was at camp. When I am at camp, things would be better if I was at home. It’s an endless cycle of wishing and wanting and never allowing myself to simply accept that no season is perfect, but each is filled with lessons and opportunities to learn if I let myself be more present in them. I’m working on it.
These days, I am practicing the art of noticing and being. I want to accept each season I am in, and fully lean into both the good and the bad they bring. I set some high expectations for myself and my life; I want it to all be perfect, but that’s not what God made us for. When I wish away the uncomfortable seasons in life, I fail to recognize the way that God is using my discomfort to teach me about who he is, and the person he made me to be. Being uncomfortable is ok, because it is a reminder that I am not made for this world. Being comfortable in my life on Earth would keep me from seeking God and his peace. If I was comfortable, I would never want to grow. My discomfort reminds me of my humanity and my deep need for Jesus. He uses my lack of peace to remind me that he is the Prince of Peace and that I need him more than I could ever understand.
There is a choice we can all make when faced with uncomfortable challenges, or unwanted struggles in our lives. We can choose to wish it away and refuse to accept them, or we can choose to be content. Choosing contentment means you can stop worrying about trying to be comfortable, because that’s not your purpose. God never created you with the intention of finding peace in this world, because it’s not our home. All the goodness of this life is just a sneak peek into the one we were created to live with him in heaven: free of sin, and truly at peace. All the blessings that God placed in this world are just his way of reaching out his hand to us and saying, “Come with me, there’s more where that came from.” If you think this life is sweet, just wait until you finally see the life you were truly created for. With this in mind, we are all given the choice to be more present each day, even if that means accepting that not everything is going to be exactly the way we may have planned. There is so much joy to be found when we live in the moment, celebrating each season in joyful contentment. I am so thankful to serve a God who repeatedly invites me to make this choice in the most mundane places, like books about vegetables.