There is something beautiful about watching the season change. When I lived in Durban, because we only really had a wet season and dry season, we didn’t really see the changing of the seasons. So here in New Zealand I am soaking up the changes as well as the last of the sun soaked days, trying to store the heat for the promise of a colder winter than I am used to.
As I walk through my beautiful little town of Cambridge, I am delighted with the sights, sounds and of course the chill that has started to be evident. As I walk and the chilly wind blows me forward, there is the rustling and bustling of dry coloured leaves and I am consciously taking every moment in.
As I believe God is always speaking to us through people, the Bible, and yes even nature, I was looking for the message in this beautiful changing of the seasons. Gary was flicking through the channels the other day when he stopped on a David Attenborough show just long enough for me to hear why the leaves change colour. It turns out that they turn those gorgeous colours because they push all the nutrients back into the trunk of the tree to protect it from the coming winter. So the leaves have their season and they create the nutrients for the tree to thrive. Then, when they sense the chill of autumn, they start to push the nutrients out of the leaves and back into the tree to nourish and protect it through the hard winter months.
It made me think of contribution. In Cloe Madanes’ book Relationship Breakthrough she speaks about the six human needs that “underlie and motivate every choice we make”. She also writes that, “When our needs for love, growth and contribution are satisfied, they tend to encompass all our other needs. When we focus on something beyond ourselves, most of our problems and sources of pain become less significant.”
When your world becomes dark and gloomy, have a good honest look around and check out what you are focusing on – you’ll often find that it’s all about you and your pain, discomfort or frustration. I know from personal experience that when times are tough, I can become shortsighted and only see myself and what I need, not those around me and what they are needing.
Lift your head (yip, I know how hard it is to do this, but I promise it is so worth it). Lift up your head and look around and find someone or somewhere to contribute. It doesn’t have to be big; start small.
Having a rough time in your marriage, finding the gap with a teenager getting too big, hating your grumpy boss right now? Stop! Lift up your head, look at the situation and ask yourself where you could contribute to their needs right now. Instead of asking “Why are they doing, saying or being this way to me?” ask yourself, “What is it they need from me?” Then take a deep breath and give it to them with a loving attitude.
More and more I am realising that the secret to breakthrough in my life comes from contributing to others in a healthy way. It doesn’t mean I become a door mat – that’s not what contributing is about. Powerful people give of their fruit and not their root. They understand that the power of laying down their life for others requires them not be a victim but to be a person of compassion and courage.
So as the colours are changing around me and I find myself in a new season of my life, I am learning to love, grow and contribute in a whole new way. It is sometimes very uncomfortable and sometimes it is downright hard, but even though I have never been this way before, the One who leads and guides me has. He knows the way and He will never leave my side. This way I am able to have joy in the journey and peace too.
We have nothing to fear…