Seasons of the Soul
Updated: Nov 11, 2021
As I am writing this article, a “cold front” is making its way toward my home. I can see it coming on the weather app on my phone. My dog, Chuck, gets anxious during storms so I have given him a doggie snack - plied with some special soothing additives to help him relax for the next few hours! Unlike Chuck, I am anxiously looking forward to the front coming through. I am happy because the storms headed in my direction are another sign of the change of seasons. I love the changing of one season to the next – a new season brings me a sense of hope for what lies ahead.
The seasons in nature are a tangible reminder to me that the spiritual life is a journey through seasons. One of the most profoundly impactful things I have learned over the past few years is to develop an awareness of the season of my soul. Because just as there are seasonal rhythms in nature, so too there are seasons of the soul. The writer of Ecclesiastes contemplates in the third chapter, “for everything there is a season.” No matter what your spiritual or chronological age, seasons of the soul are a vital part of your journey in life with God.
What do seasons of the soul feel like? Winter feels cold and dark. God is present with us differently in the Winter season and we sometimes don’t even recognize Him when we are in it. In Spring, we experience a richness in deepening relationship with God and with others. Summer is the opposite of winter. We feel an abundance of God’s presence and our capacity to love and serve others with joy flourishes. In the Autumn season of the soul, we experience both the abundance of harvest and the bitterness of releasing.
You may wonder, why would it be important to understand seasons of my soul? What difference would it make if I could name the spiritual season in which I find my soul at any given time? Author Mark Buchanan writes in his book Spiritual Rhythm that in every season of the soul he seeks two things - “Christ’s presence in season and out” and “Christ’s wisdom in season and out, to know how best to meet him, how to make the most of each season and moment.” Developing an awareness of the spiritual seasons can be helpful for understanding the deeper work of God in your life. Additionally, being able to name the current season of your soul may be beneficial for determining spiritual practices and activities to engage with during those seasons. In this way, you make yourself available to God, to partner with what he is doing in you. Understanding the season of your soul can also be comforting – especially in difficult times. When the season is hard and the journey seems bleak, you can lean heavily on the truth that the current season will end, and the Lord will bring you into another.
Below are are helpful things to understand about seasons of the soul:
God invites us into seasons of the soul for His glory, and for our blessing and growth, as He sees fit.
God doesn’t move us through seasons linearly as we might suppose.
Seasons of the soul are not balanced – they are not evenly spaced nor do they equal out over a lifetime.
Because we don’t control our spiritual seasons, our part is to trust God for every season, for His timing and His work in us in those seasons.
What we do have control over is our response - we can choose to join Him or resist Him in the work He is doing.
Sometimes, discerning the season of our soul is very difficult. There are times when life is so disorienting that it feels impossible to name a particular season. One day our souls may feel like summer, the next day like winter.
How is it that we come to be in different soul seasons? Sometimes, circumstances of life put us in seasons - grief, loss, struggles, blessings, joys, abundance, etc. While other times, God draws us into a particular season because of the work He is doing in us.
God created you for a love relationship with Him. As you experience different seasons in your soul, you can learn to partner with Him in the journey, trusting that where you are is a place He will use in your growth toward wholeness in Christ.
So, what is the season of your soul? Take some time in God's presence to ask this question and see what you notice.
In upcoming blogs, I’ll describe the soul seasons in greater detail along with helpful ways for partnering with God in every season of the soul.
Spiritual Rhythm, Mark Buchanan
I am indebted to my training in spiritual direction with Leadership Transformation’s Selah, where I learned so much about seasons of the soul and joining God in the work He is doing in me.
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