I remember a season in my life that was really wonderful. I was dating my first love, I had a fun, easy job where it felt like I just hung out with my friends all day, and I had my own cat, an awesome little guy named Harrison (who was indeed named after Harrison Ford). Harry was the type of cat that even cat-haters loved. He was very mellow and hilarious to watch. He was my first pet that was my own, not a family pet. And I vividly remember the night he got hit by a car, I remember my dad saying, "You've had a very good summer. This must be really hard." And he was right, you see, because when everything in your life is going very well and is rather easy, even what seems like a light rain feels like a torrential downpour, complete with winds and hail. My poor Harry being hit and killed by a car was the first in what seemed to be a season of storms, full of lots of pain and hurt.
The funny thing is, once the storms subsided, I realized how much I had grown. I liked myself so much more than when everything was easy and comfortable. My character grew, I matured, and the little bumps in life didn't send me into a downward spiral anymore. That time in my life, almost exactly two years ago, I can say that I was very joyful. Things weren't perfect, but I could see why God brought me through such difficult situations, and I could be grateful for everything I had experienced that had brought me to such a content, trusting place.
I feel like the past year and a half of my life was another "easy, comfortable, fun" season. We'll call those the summers of my life. I lived in northern California where the attitude is much more relaxed. I had an amazing boyfriend/fiance who I felt completely blessed to have in my life, and who introduced me to a huge number of friends. We always had interesting things to do and wonderful people to do them with. I lived with a friend who I've known since I was quite young, who understood me and who made me laugh constantly. My commute to my job took me through beautiful vineyards and some of the most gorgeous places I've ever seen. My job was fairly simple, I got to pray every morning with my coworkers, and my boss cared more about me and how I was doing than about the job in general. I really had it good. I am very thankful to have experienced this "summer season" of my life. And yet I don't feel like I grew much at all.
Currently, my life is in very much a "fall" season, where change is abundant. My husband and I moved to southern California, which is so much less the type of atmosphere where we feel we belong. We went from a huge group of friends to just a couple of friends, which was very hard for a social couple. We left our flexible, pleasant jobs for ones that are a lot more strict and unforgiving. I had to stop going to school, since I was enrolled in classes up north and have not been able to enroll here yet. It has been very, very hard; much more difficult than either of us imagined.
And yet, we're learning so much. I refused to cooperate for awhile, but now that I've been here for a couple months, I've started allowing God to use these challenges to shape me and mature me once again into the type of woman he wants me to be. Already it has been incredibly amazing to see how much Sam has grown, and I admire him everyday for his willingness to use this time in life to learn. It would definitely be the easy way out for us to move back up north (and I've tried to convince him to do it multiple times, believe me), but I'd much rather be gritting our teeth and growing than sailing through, remaining somewhat stagnant. I haven't always had this attitude, but I've been greatly inspired by my husband, who has been incredible in his desire to honor his commitments and God, and to learn whatever lessons we need to be learning. I even feel guilty now for the times I've told him we should just move back, because I realized that God is working in him in really amazing ways down here. My desire for us to just be happy might sometimes get in the way of necessary pain that will promote growth.
A lot of people don't understand our decision to move, and our decision to stick it out for the time being. We'd love to move back up north and might do so one day. But I can say without hesitation that these challenges have strengthened our marriage more than I thought possible, and have given me renewed love and respect for this man I'm blessed to share life with. We never would have been stretched so much if we'd stayed in our comfort zone, and we feel that these challenges are preparing us better for whatever lies ahead. I can actually say that I'm thankful we moved and I'm thankful for the job that I hate and the friends that I miss because these things are making me a stronger person, and helping me see the good things in life so much more clearly. I wouldn't appreciate the summer nearly as much if I didn't have to go through the winter.
Don't get me wrong - I'm very much looking forward to the day when we love our jobs and we have lots of friends and feel more comfortable where we are. But for once I'm trying to stick it out and make the best of something, rather than giving up and taking the easy, more fun way. I have to remind myself daily that this is a time of refining, and I'm thankful to be doing it with a husband who understands that and encourages me to be a better version of myself.