How to Thrive In A Tough Season
I know that title is pretty broad — I can’t do anything about some of the frustrations in your life. I can’t do anything about that guy whose trash blows in your yard. Or the guy on the interstate who cuts you off with no blinker. And you really can’t do much about it, either. Just get over yourself and get over them. 🙂
But there are some larger, enduring frustrations that I’ve experienced that I bet you have too. And THOSE, I can teach you something about. It’s the frustration that comes with seasons in your life.
I know you’re familiar with the concept of seasons of the year, but you might not have thought of life in terms of seasons.
3 things you need to remember to keep from being frustrated about seasons:
1. Seasons come in a micro- and a macro- version.
Here are some examples of micro-seasons:
Recovery from a medical procedure.
Bouncing back from a very busy project
Adjusting to a new neighborhood after moving
Examples of macro-seasons:
Raising young children
For micro-seasons, you just need to wait them out, and take some short term actions — medication, rest, etc.
For macro-seasons, you’ll need to adjust your attitude, check your values, and engage in personal growth.
2. Seasons are not something you can control.
You can’t just decide you’re not going to participate in this season any more. You can’t stop most seasons of life any more than you can stop spring or winter from coming.
So the solution to the frustration can’t be found in how to change the season… it’s got to be found in how I respond to it.
3. You can’t control seasons, but you can choose your attitude.
The old saying “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what happens IN you,” applies here. Author and holocaust survivor Victor Frankl said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom….When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”
When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves. Victor Frankl
So here are some ways that I have dealt with seasons, while trying to keep my attitude positive:
1. Watch your words.
Early in my ministry, when we were frustrated about a season we were facing, Liz and I would often say to each other, dramatially, “Well, in the grand scale of 30 years of ministry…” It was usually good for a chuckle, but it did more. It became a tagline that allowed us to “zoom out” and see the season from the larger perspective.
Be careful of your words. They don’t just reveal your perspective — they help create it! And your perspective helps create your reality… Create wisely.
Be careful of your words. They don’t just reveal your perspective — they help create it!
2. Find the funny.
Kids have been probably the defining season of this part our life. I have a saying my wife and I have laughed over for the last few years: “Someday, I’m going to change the world, but right now I have to change this kid’s diaper.” It helps me laugh, and remember the delicious irony of a young kid that thought he was going to change the world through his career in ministry — then had 6 kids, and discovered that he needed to change himself first.
Sam Chand says, “A leader can only grow up to the level of his tolerance for pain.” Seasons can be full of pain.
But they are also prime places for “the growth that happens before the growth.” You know what I mean by that, right? It’s what Steven Covey calls the “private victory” that always precedes “public victory.”
I know what it’s like to be dealing with a season while wishing to be out “kicking behind and taking names.” But while you’re waiting, don’t waste the time. This is captured beautifully in John Waller’s song “While I’m Waiting” from the movie Fireproof. Check it out if you need some encouragement:
These are some behind the scenes areas where you can grow during tough seasons:
Personal devotional time
Working on a new skill
Improving an old skill
Investing in a relationship
Seeking out coaching
Developing teamwork in your church/family
Creating better systems
Creating morning and evening routines
Choose your attitude. Watch your words. Create your plan. You’re going to get through this.