Seasons of Life, Jumping to Conclusions, and Worry

When we relocated from the northeast to Florida, one of the things we missed most was the change of seasons. Native Floridians quickly advised us that instead of winter, spring, summer, and fall, our seasons are snowbird, love bug, summer, and hurricane.

While the calendar tells us the first day of spring was March 20th, our weather didn’t appear to get the message. Still, we’re not complaining about the cooler temperatures this week. We just look for signs of spring in other ways.

One of those ways appeared in my own backyard a few days ago.

Last month, I wrote a blog post titled, “Mate for Life.” In that post, I described a pair of sandhill cranes that had frequented our backyard for the past year. I also expressed my sadness at the apparent loss of half the pair. I hoped the missing crane might simply be tending her nest and would soon reappear.

WorryShe did. This week, we watched the whole family foraging for food: daddy, mommy and two precious sandhill crane chicks.

When I first noticed the single crane, I had assumed the worst: his mate had died and he would be alone for the rest of his life.

Why do we do that? Why do we jump to conclusions and assume terrible things before gathering all the facts? We allow ourselves to become anxious over what appears to have occurred, only to discover it has not happened. In the end, we prove the adage, “Worry is the interest paid in advance on a debt you may never owe.”

Worry

I know better, yet I can fall back into old patterns of behavior. Uncertainty is an opportunity to trust my heavenly Father. But my actions don’t always reflect what I claim to believe. I need to remember rock-solid truth when the future appears to be sinking sand.

The Bible has much to say on this subject. Perhaps these verses will be as helpful to you as they are to me…

  • “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:25-30 ESV).

 

  • “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:33-34 ESV).

 

  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).

 

  • “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 ESV).

 

Good words. But if these words are to help me, I must do more than just read them. I need to own them. Remind myself of them daily. Process them so my understanding and application is more than a mere academic exercise.

I need to live them.

It’s not always easy. And I expect there will continue to be occasions when I’ll regress. Still, I’m grateful my heavenly Father does not give up on me. He provides reminders that during seasons of change I don’t need to jump to conclusions or expect the worst. His Holy Spirit encourages me so that I don’t have to yield to worry.

And, occasionally, He sends me a family of sandhill cranes to remind me that He’s still in control.

How do you handle uncertainty?


Mate for Life

I never thought a sandhill crane would make me cry.

A pair of sandhill cranes were living in our little corner of the neighborhood for the last year. It seems fitting, since they happen to be the logo of our development.

We’ve watched them establish a routine. Foraging for food. Teasing our dogs by remaining just outside the boundary of the invisible fence that corrals our two eager boxers. Proclaiming, quite loudly, that they were large and in charge.

And always together. Until now.

For the past week, we’ve only seen one. One by himself (herself?) searching for food. And looking ever so lonely. I find myself hoping against hope that he’s alone because his mate is nesting somewhere in the area. Wishing that she’ll accompany him again a month from now with two newly hatched chicks. Mate for Life

Because, you see, sandhill cranes are one of those breeds that mate for life. And life for them is usually longer than 20 years. They mate when they’re about 2 years old, and spend the next 20-30 years nesting, raising chicks, and watching them leave to start their own families.

A circle of life. The rhythm of nature.

It makes me appreciate the lifetime I’ve had with my own husband. Seasons and decades. Experiences that have been good, bad, and occasionally so ugly the only thing you can do is stifle a gag reflex. Otherwise known as life.

There’s something special about sharing all those things across decades with one person. With someone who knows you, sometimes better than you know yourself. Someone who gets your quirks, overlooks your faults, and loves you anyway.

Someone who understands what real love is. Not just the hearts-and-flowers kind of love celebrated once a year on Valentine’s Day. But a love that’s in it for the duration. A love that puts the other person’s needs and desires ahead of your own. And a love that never lets go.

I’m grateful for that kind of love. For the “mate for a lifetime” commitment. I know that not everyone has the opportunity for that experience, and I don’t take it for granted.

So here’s my challenge…
Valentine’s Day has passed, but don’t wait another 12 months to show your love. While hearts and flowers are nice, consider other ways to communicate the deep joy and privilege of doing life together.

Identify a task the other person is responsible for, and surprise him or her by taking care of it. Do something together to get out of your rut. It doesn’t have to be dinner at a fancy restaurant (although that’s always nice!). Perhaps a spontaneous neighborhood walk after dinner. Or maybe sharing, without jokes or teasing, how much he or she means to you. Hold hands. Lock eyes with a smile. Bite your tongue when he leaves his clothes on the floor (again!). Or when she tells you (for the 20th time!) to pick up your clothes.

Expressing love—real love—isn’t easy to do day in and day out. We’re selfish by nature. We want our marriage and our world to revolve around us, not around the other person. And we want it now.

Christians know that to maintain this kind of deep, unselfish, humble love requires the supernatural equipping of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who encourages, prompts, and gives us the desire to love our spouse the way we want to be loved. 

And if you need additional motivation, consider my lonely sandhill crane. Don’t wait till it’s too late to say—and show—your love.

You won’t be sorry!