Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Insulated, not isolated

There is great wisdom in learning to be attentive to the seasons.  In the natural sense, seasons bring different opportunities for the one who watches for the outcome of the season.  In springtime, new growth sprouts forth, but how did the growth occur?  Wasn't it because the soil was prepared for the growth, the seeds were planted, finding growth possible because of the sun and gentle rains which nourish it into life?  In the summertime, the heats of the sun can almost devastate the tender shoots, so they spring up in the cooler season of springtime.  This way they already have root enough to survive the heat of summer.  Fall brings harvest and a planting of a different crop - one which requires a little frost to bring forth the rich tastes of this season.  Winter seems like it produces very little, but the "barrenness" of winter actually prepares the way for the growth of spring.  The shedding of leaves leads to ground cover, protecting seeds which fell in the previous season of autumn and the rains or snows tamp that seed down under those composting leaves.  In turn, the seed is readied for the gentle warming of spring - the season when the growth will become evident.  The cycle begins all over again - each season producing something the next will build upon. The same is true in our lives as it applies to our relationships.  They go through seasons - one building upon the next, preparing the way for every bit of growth we will and "fruit" of the season.

A person's thoughts are like water in a deep well, but someone with insight can draw them out. (Proverbs 20:5 GNT)

Seasons within relationships are often missed because one or more parties simply doesn't take the time to realize the purpose of the time they are in. What happens in each season is important and should not be glossed over.  It doesn't pay to be inattentive to the seasons in the natural sense - so it stands to reason as much as we might be inattentive in our relationships, we might just miss opportunities if we continue this inattentiveness.  Probably one of the most telling signs of us not being cognizant of the seasons of a relationship is when we turn our backs on the instruction within the season. The seasons of relationships are filled with all manner of lessons from which we can glean many opportunities for growth and maturity, but neglecting any of the seasons sets us up for a failed "crop" in the next.  No planting, or planting too late in spring means withered growth in summer, or worse yet, no growth at all.  

Often, we miss the opportunities within the season because of the barriers to growth we might not recognize in each of these seasons.  In the natural sense, springtime seems like a wonderfully vibrant and lush season, but it is riddled with all kinds of "growth-inhibitors", as well.  As quickly as the new growth might spring up during this season, there is also a corresponding growth all around us.  There is a multiplication of sorts all around which requires just as much feeding as the tiny seeds which spring forth.  Those tender shoots actually make nice fodder for those quick enough to steal them away!  Some of us see growth springing up within our relationships and then just count on it to continue - simply because it took root.  We don't see the tiny critters underneath with their insatiable appetites for the tender roots. The garden of relationship must be tended carefully, identifying early signs of growth "stealing" invaders.

Growth "stealing" invaders in relationship might be those things which demand our time and attention. While good on the surface, their constant demands of our focus actually take our eyes off the growth which was occurring in the relationship and diverted attention gives the chance for the growth "stealing" invaders to eat away at its tender roots.  Whatever can affect the roots soon gnaws away at the one source we have for continued growth.  No roots means no fruits.  The heat of summer in terms of relationships are those times when we may not see eye-to-eye and then this brings friction.  We can only exist so long in the "hot-bed" of emotional unrest in relationships.  Eventually, the "heat" of the unrest will wither us and wilted relationships may lack the ability to recover.  What may have barely made it through the heat of "summer" in relationships may just be done in by the seeming barrenness of autumn and winter.  So, what are we to do to make the most of the seasons in our relationships?

We need all seasons - so don't sell any season short.  At first, relationships are like springtime - there is all kinds of fresh growth.  Newness of relationship actually brings all these little shoots of potential growth - but each must be nurtured.  Some will find this too burdensome - others will delight in the tenderness of "caring for" each other.  The important thing is we recognize the opportunities for growth - the things which need our attention in order to flourish into solid parts of our relationships.  The warming effects of summer actually test the "solid" roots of our "intense growth cycle" we call springtime.  At first, we grow rapidly - then we are put to the test.  Not all growth will survive, but that which does will become stronger as things "heat up" in relationship.  Then comes autumn - the season when we get comfortable with each other.  Autumn is kind of a lazy season - we enjoyed the rapid growth, survived the testing of summer, and now we kick back and just think we can enjoy each other.  Here's the rub - we do need to kick back and enjoy each other, but we also need to "insulate" in order to be able to survive the next season of winter.

"Insulating" doesn't mean we pull away, but that we draw closer and actually wrap the tenderest parts of our relationship in preparation for the harshness of winter storms.  Just as the leaves might be raked and placed in piles around the base of the tree in order to protect its tender roots, so we might just need to "insulate" the tender roots of our relationship.  We draw closer to each other when we are protective of each other.  Winter's storms may attempt to put a little "chill" into our relationships, but a well-insulated root base will keep us solid and capable of even more new growth with the breaking of spring again!  Just sayin!

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