This picture began circulating the internet on Veterans Day 2015. Pictures like this make me think. Pictures like this make me pause for a moment, to ponder, to consider, to appreciate the creativity of the graphic designer, and to admire the artists’ handiwork.
However, this picture goes beyond just someone’s amazing photoshop skills. When I look at this picture, I see life. This picture makes me wonder what all has taken place in the hyphen, that elapsed space of time from youth to elder, from valiant warrior, to the worn out body of an aged man.
Make no mistake about it, the image of a frail body in the foreground in no way disrespects the life that was once lived! While now slouched over, and supported by a cane, the cumulative years of success, leadership, loyalty, accomplishments and so much more are now only referred to as memories, or in the past tense. Phrases which many of us already find our selves muttering, phrases like: “I used to be able to _______” or “Remember when I could _______?” I’m learning at the ripe old age of 38 that father time is already catching up with me. It’s a daunting realty that I have to accept.
I’ve grown to appreciate the seasons of life; and I think this picture does an amazing job at capturing the seasons of life. Yes, there’s a lot to be left to the imagination, but that hyphen represents a span of time where life and living occurs. When it comes to the seasons of life, I challenge you to consider three things:
- Recognize. Do yourself a favor, recognize when your seasons (or the seasons of your loved ones) come and go. It is hard to accept, I know! But do so with grace. Not begrudgingly. My wife and I were blessed to have a season of about 10 years of our life (from our mid 20s to our mid 30s) where we were fortunate enough to lead students in worship at a summer camp. Those were some of the best days of our lives! However, now, as we approach 40, those days are behind us, and guess what, someone else, likely in their mid 20s or early 30s are the ones for the job! We have to recognize that it’s not that we’re not longer capable of leading, it’s just that it’s someone else’s season!
- Respect. Respect the fact that at each season of life, there will be a learning curve. It really shouldn’t be that surprising, why? Because each new season represents a new stage of life that you (or those that you love) have never been in before! At this stage of my life as a parent, I have to admit, I don’t always know what I’m doing! Especially with two (almost) teenagers! I’m also observing a new season with my parents, and their role as the children of my grandparents! I’m observing with a tremendous amount of respect, my grandma (who is like a sister to my wife and I) respectfully embrace the season of life that requires her to trade in the home that she has spent 30+ years living in, and downsizing to a more manageable place that she can take care of. Believe me, this is not a easy transition, but I am privileged to watch my grandma embrace this season, while maintaining a tremendous amount of respect for her.
- Release. Regarding the relationship I have with my grandparents, there are some things that I am learning that I have to release. I have to release the reality that my grandpa, who has Alzheimer’s, is no longer capable of doing the things that physically he once to such pride in. Pop, my grandpa, was always active, and quick to lend a hand to anybody and everybody that was in need of help. Now, this season of life that he is in, requires him to be cared for. I have had to release the expectation I have had of him coming to everyone else’s rescue, and now, we, his family, have to care for him.
There is so much more that can be said regarding this topic, perhaps I will revisit this post again and add to it. For now, enjoy the season of life that you are in, especially if it is one that brings you health, energy, and happiness. Meanwhile, for those that are transitioning into less enjoyable seasons, remember to recognize where you, or your loved ones are, continue to respect them, and don’t forget to release them of your prior expectations you once had for them.
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