which one are you in?
Wow. What a thought-provoking quote (and question!) I would have never put it that way, but it's exactly what 2023 has been for us. A Season of questions. My husband is stepping down as senior pastor of a church that was birthed in our living room almost a dozen years ago. A church full of people who are like family. Of children we have known since they were just an unanswered prayer. It's painful, but time. Like they have been for many in full-time ministry, the last few years have been hard. We wanted to make a change before becoming embittered or completely undone. He'll stay on as a part-time associate (even though that's a bit awkward) and will become part of what I'm calling the "Theological Gig Economy." Opportunities we haven't looked for have presented themselves, felt "absolutely perfect" and then have disappeared. So we wait. And ask questions. And wait for a season of answers. Thanks for sharing not just the good stuff with your readers, but the hard stuff as well. It makes one feel not so alone.
I, too, am in a year of questions. The only answer I have so far, is that there is no place for shame while waiting for answers. While I wait, I’m focusing on finding healing through my grief at the unexpected changes, drawing near to God for His and my own sake, and enjoying a summer of expectancy.
“A good answer for provision doesn’t mean freedom from heartache or loss.” So powerful.
I am in a season of questions. So many questions. And where an answer pops up it feels like it’s replaced with even more questions. God has told me numerous times in this season that I need to surrender my right to understand. There have been times where he’s even told me to stop asking him “why” for the time being. The ebb and flow of it all is difficult. My friend just posted “I a big believer that we were made for hard things” and that rings so true here!!
Wow! Such a big change for you and your crew, but what a gift to have peace about it. I feel like my current season is in-between questions and answers - perhaps more focused on waiting and hope?
Also, I learned this week that my daughter's current teacher, a Dominican Sister of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, is being transferred to a Catholic school in Georgetown this fall! Small world.
I love this so much - I've never thought about this in quite this way. We also discerned some educational changes for our homeschooled kids this spring, especially about what co-op best served our family. I hadn't even meant to ask that question at first. I thought I was asking a very small question (had I been treated fairly in a specific interaction), but once I asked it I found myself swimming in questions, to piggyback on your water imagery. My first spiritual director taught me about times of waiting in terms of the liturgical year. Waiting for a child was like Advent, waiting for a difficult season to be over was like Lent, etc. I wonder what liturgical season best fits with a season of questions or if it has more to do with the tone of the questions?
Lots of questions and unsettling circumstances right now in my life. I’m glad your answers have come and good luck in the new chapter you are starting as a family! Change is hard, but I hope it brings good fruit!
This year has been very, very hard. Definitely in a season of questions and trying to have patience when Things aren't going the Way I Thought They Should. As Anne Lamott says, I have tiny little control issues...and letting go of them is its own exercise in surrender. My husband was recently diagnosed with diabetes - a brick wall I've been watching him hurtle towards for a while because of his years of heavy beer drinking. Yet God orchestrated a healing between us prior to this diagnosis which has helped us weather it (sort of) thus far. He's not handling his diagnosis well - denial is part of grief, I keep reminding myself. And my own anger is also part of grieving. As Missy pointed out, perhaps helpful to think of this like my own lingering Lent.
Oh, Tsh. Thank you for articulating your season with vulnerability and beauty. I related to the “quickly deluged into an unexpected waterfall in which I was rowing in a poorly-equipped canoe meant for a leisurely paddle”.
I recently read this Zora Neale Hurston quote in another book and I’m so glad you brought it to my attention again.
We’re in a season of learning how to hold more questions than answers as our youngest is dealing with a rare medical diagnosis. It’s been a challenging 6-months of learning to sit with so many unknowns, while other parts of life need to keep happening in tandem with hospital visits, and there is not a clear end in sight.
And so when Springtime arrived I almost felt resentful, like the earth is flaunting the passage of time while we remain in this season of uncertainty.
I had to wrestle with that, and accept God’s invitation to trust and to be present. I can hold these challenges and questions, and I can lean in to the beauty and truth that is unfolding around me as the lilacs and alliums bloom and bring so joy and sweetness to the scene.
This way of cultivating hope seems to make space for so much more than I could have planned or anticipated. And I’m thankful for the ways in which God reminds me that we’re not alone.
Thanks for this helpful perspective of framing a season as one filled with mostly questions or mostly answers. I am very much in a season of questions: (1) How do I wisely steward the roles I am in, though they feel uncomfortable and I yearn for avoidance and escape? (2) To what extent should I dream/think/plan beyond my current situation, versus simply doing the next right thing? (3) How do I love friends well where they are - making choices contrary to God's ways - while encouraging them to grow in holiness? (4) Now that there is an empty space in my life, how do I fill that space in a way that honors God and does not just stuff something new in the space to distract me from the loss? (5) When someone whose influence significantly shaped me is no longer a part of my life in the same way, how can I still cultivate the good that person brought out in me? I'm sure there are more questions, but these are the ones that came to mind. I plan to write these in my journal to see how God answers them in His time.
I feel like the last three years have been years of questions. From when my husband was diagnosed with cancer, exactly three years ago, to his passing two years ago. Almost daily there is a question that he usually had the answer to. There is lots of learning on my part, running a home, finances, our four kids and their lives, working full time, etc.
Emily P Freeman talks about how some times we don’t get full answers to our questions, but arrows pointing us in the right direction. Thank God for those arrows.
As I wrote the first sentence, I thought of the story in Genesis of the years of plenty and the years of famine and how the famine years ate up the plenty years.
May God’s grace and His answers, in His time, be greater than the struggles in our questions.
I didn't know this was how I was feeling until I read it. Thank you!
Still in a year of questions, I think, as I recover from another severe bout of anxiety and depression. In terms of work, though, I've received lots of answers. After having to quit my (new) teaching job in January, I was accepted back at my previous teaching job (of four years) for next year. I had to quit in January because I was constantly sick, driving to work was extremely difficult anxiety-wise, and by the time I got home all I wanted to do was lay on my couch and scroll on my phone (scary for someone who normally walks 5+ miles per day).
The school where I taught for four years was everything I wanted (private school, autonomy over curriculum, near good friends and extended family, breaks to go back home and visit my parents) but was not lining up with my values in the last year I was there. It was heart-wrenching to leave, and joyous to be able to go back (under new leadership). Answers there.
Now, if only I could find the answer to how to like driving again and not experience all the anxious feelings whenever I get behind the wheel.
This is such helpful framing. It feels complementary to a different structure I've used: seasons. And of course winter = questions and summer = answers. (Spring and fall can vary depending on whether you like the answers you're getting...). And like the earth's hemispheres are in opposite seasons at the same time, different parts of my life are in a period of questions while in others the answers are coming more easily. I'm asking questions right now about what comes next after an intense 4 year period of serving at my local church and leading our vestry/congregation through a potential rector change. I'm finding answers in my calling at work and relationships with my colleagues. I have way more questions than answers about how events from my early childhood have impacted me. Questions about what friendship looks like as a 40+ year old. Questions about what it means when something I've prayed might change for over a decade might actually start shifting. I'm finding some answers in unexpected places as I embrace the discipline of writing each day.
(And I'd love to know from anyone if there's ever a year of answers when it comes to raising kids! Because it's been almost ALL questions since the moment they were born!)
Coming out of about 5 years of the wide-eyed question on repeat: what the heck? And settling into a season of watching God do the work we’ve prayed for in various spaces.
Definitely a season of questions. Seeing some direction and feeling lots of peace that we are on the right path, but no clear answers. Love your imagery of an ill-equipped canoe in the waterfall. That feels right. I look forward to a season of answers. 2017-2018 were questions; 2019-2021 were answers, even when I didn't like all the answers. So makes sense late 2022-now would have new questions. Thank you for this framework; it is so helpful.
Enjoy your last week in the school. I'll be praying for your family, especially your son.
So many questions. We've lost close friends this year, in their early 50s, and the empty space just sits there staring at us.
I loved this sentence: “A good answer for provision doesn’t mean freedom from heartache or loss.” It really resonates.
I think I would add for myself, currently — a good answer doesn't mean I'm immediately released from all anxiety and the daily choice to keep trusting God that what seemed like his answer a week ago is still his answer today.
I've been in and out of years of questions about my singleness and if God would ever bring me a companion. I really wrestled with that when my father died in 2020. Last August, God brought someone into my life who sometimes feels too good to be true. We're making plans for a wedding and I still sometimes wonder, mostly irrationally, if "the other shoe will drop."
It seems this year is a one of answers for marriage, companionship, and overall life direction. It's such a gift after the deep grief, even though I still carry it and wish my dad could be here to experience the wonder and joy with us! So I just keep practice gratitude and trust, since I'm so much more used to being in a year of questions. Questions are more comfortable, I'm used to that space with God, and I keep thinking, "This is really happening?! To me?"
"Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."