A few weeks ago, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 was read at church:
“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”
As I followed along I was overcome with confusion and conviction. For those who don’t know me, I can become hyper-focused and mesmerized by the ‘fun’ times. The writer of Ecclesiastes is commanding us to acknowledge the need and significance of the times that aren’t ideal or fun. I thought to myself, ‘Who wants to mourn, hate, weep, tear things down, be silent, scatter stones and die?’
I was struck with confusion because if I’m being honest, none of that sounds appealing to me; however, the Bible is telling me those times are necessary and unavoidable. Russ Ramsey uses the phrase ‘stinging stairs’ to describe the book of Ecclesiastes. He describes the book to be full of truths, that we must lean into, but they will sting. Naturally, we will avoid anything that will cause us pain. Russ asked us to go up the stinging stairs, see past the danger, and see from the landing where a perspective of the good, true, and beautiful is provided.
For me, the greatest sting I received from Ecclesiastes 3 was that I don’t allow space in my life to experience the harder times. I try to pause life in the midst of laughter, so I don’t have to address the pain. What Ecclesiastes 3 taught me is that not only are these times of weeping and mourning okay to have, but also unavoidable. I found great peace and freedom in this. The Bible expels my fear to experience something sad because that time has already been set aside and written. It doesn’t seem as foreign to me anymore.
Something I don’t allow myself to experience is sadness. Something that is associated with sadness is goodbye. I have seen many chapters of my life close and I always approach the end with fear. Fear of losing support, friends, structure and fear of being sad. I stare face-to-face with the passing of time and fear I will never be able to keep up. I have faced these endings without the knowledge, importance, and freedom of seasons.
Over the past 7 months as a group of Fellows, we have experienced the stinging staircase of life. We have encountered the hard truths of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, but also the sweetness of its promises. We have planted, searched, wept, laughed, and done a lot of dancing together. We have learned the art of being silent and speaking up. We have witnessed redemptive anger and unconditional love. We have had to tear down, build, heal, and refrain. This community has allowed me space and support to experience the spectrums of seasons. I have learned what’s on the other side of the coin because of the vulnerability, intentionality, and brokenness of this group.
I searched for this time and community. I have had the time to keep it, but like Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything.” With 51 days remaining in the program, the sun is setting on this season of life. We are coming upon the time to uproot and give up – not because we are over it or annoyed with one another, but because our time is simply almost up. This time, I enter goodbye with freedom and peace. Freedom to feel and freedom to allow the activities under heaven take their course. My heart is heavy with unknowns and fears as May 19th approaches, but I am honored to have spent a season under the sun with some of God’s Beloved Sons and Daughters.