For the past couple weeks, I’ve stepped out of my apartment onto the streets of the Inner Sunset, and it looks like fall.
Even in the midst of our heat wave – in San Francisco, where no one has A/C, 85 degrees feels sweltering – it was still clear that summer was gone and fall was coming.
It’s something about the light. The sun casts longer shadows across the ground, and the sunsets are tinged with a distinctly pink and gold hue, causing the clouds to look like great big puffs of cotton candy. One last hurrah for the season that’s behind us.
At the farmer’s market, stone fruits are slowly being replaced by apples and figs and pomegranates, and the berries have lost their peak-of-summer sweetness.
PSL’s are popping up at every coffee shop, and Trader Joe’s is well-stocked with all things pumpkin.
Fall is normally my favorite season. And yet, this year, I didn’t feel ready. I wasn’t rushing to my closet for sweaters and boots. Partly because we wear them year-round in the city, but also because I didn’t want the seasons to change. Not yet.
We didn’t get much of an Indian summer this year, and that could account for some of my hesitance. But I know the real reason I’ve been digging in my heels on the other side of the equinox and trying to keep myself in summer: I no longer have my person by my side.
Hundreds of Miles to Go
As I wrote last week, I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that James is now in LA Monday through Friday, while I’m still in SF. But acceptance is coming in fits and starts.
Some moments I embrace the fact that we’re long-distance and try to “look on the bright side,” as so many well-meaning people have encouraged me to do lately. After all, this is my last season of being unmarried. So, I want to fully take advantage of the fact that I have more time right now – more than I probably ever will – to meet up with my girlfriends, pour into my community, dedicate myself to my work. Not that those things should stop with marriage, but I know they will look quite different, and that will be its own challenge and blessing.
I also sense that this time is an important one of preparation for James and me. As a dear friend prayed over me recently, this season of long-distance is like the washing and chopping and prepping and cooking that must come before a great meal. We’re (quite literally) setting the table before sitting down to the marriage feast. And I want to receive this gift for what it is instead of just fighting against it.
But, of course, I all too often question God’s best for me. I am human, after all. And like the very first humans in the garden, I often think I know what would be better, sweeter, and easier than whatever it is God’s asked me to do. I want the fruit that’s just out of my reach instead of enjoying the abundance God has placed in front of me.
Because, in all honesty, this doesn’t feel like abundance. This feels painful and lonely and confusing. This feels like a bitter pill to swallow, and I’m not fully convinced the medicine is going to help. I’m looking for a way out instead of through.
The Invitation to a New Season
But God, in his graciousness, keeps pursuing me. And, because I’ve experienced enough of his goodness over the years, I keep leaving the door open a crack for him.
I hide out in my room (sometimes literally) and try to think my way through this season – as though I can just rationalize my way through the long-distance, the loneliness, the hundreds of miles that remain. But that approach is always a dead-end, and pretty soon I have to quiet my mind so I can hear the quiet knock at the door and let him in.
God has brought me the same invitation again and again over the years: Taste and see.
Taste and see that I am good. Lean on me, learn to trust me, be quiet and still and discover – again – just how sweet that is.
Truthfully, I am never disappointed. I am never let down when I spend time with Jesus. When I step back from my inbox and shut off the TV and just get quiet and rest. When I write, when I pour out my heart to him, he always always fills me back up. He invites me into newness instead of just staying in my sameness – no matter how comfortable that may feel to me.
Ready or Not
It almost hurts to look back and see just how foolish I can be. Even today, sitting in the airport, waiting for mechanics to service our plane, I was tempted to look at the delay through the lens of how I thought things should have gone.
I should have been in the air by now. What a waste of time.
Waste, or rather the perception of it, is one of my triggers for anxiety and worry. I am so afraid of wasting time, money, relationships, experiences – as though I think they are somehow mine? – that I often white-knuckle-grip the life out of them.
Thankfully, instead of spiraling down into deeper anxiety and worry, I put on my headphones, grabbed an apple from my carry-on, and just chilled out for a minute. I took a deep breath, prayed, and settled in. Much like my experience at the dog park last week, I realized there was really no rush. I had time. Why not enjoy it?
In fact, I needed that time. With seasons of change, there always seems to be a period of waiting that helps us come to terms with the new and let go of the old. Airports are quite literally a transitional space: You’re headed somewhere, but you have to wait, you have to submit to the process before you can go on your way.
That was certainly true for me today. And this – this post – is the result. A reflection, a reminder, an invitation. For me, and for you. Wherever you are, whatever season you’re in, whatever challenges you’re navigating, whatever open doors are before you, I hope you can embrace each moment. Find stillness, find Jesus. Bring the mess. Bring the confusion. Bring all the hopes that you’re afraid to even speak out loud. And accept the invitation to taste and see.