Today, I want to tell you a story about how the simple seasons of life can be the greatest seasons of all.
I crept to the front of the empty theater with my hands outstretched, holding a simple cotton dress bearing a faint floral print. It was neatly folded and perfectly pressed. I had donned fancier costumes in my years on the stage, but this one was my favorite. It was precious to me.
I danced in this dress with the captain in my first leading role, a role I craved, a role I prayed a thousand prayers to get. I wanted it more than a home cooked meal, a passing grade in my advanced theories of communications course, or a semester abroad at Cambridge with all my friends. Well, maybe not a semester at Cambridge. But I wanted it something fierce.
After an inspired audition followed by a wide-eyed, nail-biting night in my tiny townhouse just off campus, I sprinted to the theater willing that cast list to be posted. It was. And there was my name listed first, beside the name of Maria. A first date, the Fourth of July, the World Series, and Christmas morning entwined in this one glorious moment. All my friends were traipsing through lavish castles and lush meadows in Austen-land and Shakespeare country without me, and it didn’t matter. Not anymore. Because I was a problem called Maria. A cultural door might have closed, but a theatrical window had opened
It was just my fourth production so I was still a novice, but apparently my best Julie Andrews’ impersonation sealed the deal landing me the iconic alto lead in The Sound of Music. It became the highlight of my senior year, the crowning achievement of my college career.
Many roles followed this one. I went on to graduate school and honed my craft, finding my own voice as a performer. Then I worked professionally for a dozen years in theaters all over Hampton Roads, Virginia. But that role changed the course of my life. It told me that I had a future as an actor. It ushered in a season under lights.
And here I stood cradling this modest frock that I had not seen in well over a decade, an ordinary dress from an extraordinary season in my life. Hands extended, I gave it to the director. I was done with it. I was moving on. And then, I woke up.
The symbolism in this dream was hard to miss.
God was ushering me into a new season of life on a different kind of stage. One made of linoleum with a spotlight of fluorescent kitchen bulbs. Instead of belting out Broadway tunes for enthusiastic crowds, I would sing lullabies for an audience of one, then two, then three, four, and five. It was quite a change after spending so long on the stage. Like my dress, this new season was simple and unadorned. The underlying fabric was not designed to be noticed. It was designed to be hidden.
Truth be told, this new season of life went against my nature, and I wasn’t always sure that it fit. I scrambled to find my footing as a stay-at-home mom. I longed for the season I had left. While I loved my kids more than life, more than breath, I didn’t recognize the anonymous woman in the mirror anymore. She was foreign to me.
I went from being an actor and a writer with complete autonomy to pursue my theatrical dreams to being a stay-at-home-mom in a state 700 miles away from my former life. I had spent a dozen years building a resume and reputation that became obsolete overnight. I had no connections in this new city where we had moved and no time to build them. The never-ending demands of motherhood made auditioning and rehearsals impossible. All the training, all the experience, all the work and relationships I had painstakingly built for over a decade were gone. In an instant.
I was a young, strong, vibrant tree that suddenly had no leaves. At least not the kind of leaves I was used to.
Have you ever watched the seasons in your life shift and looked longingly at the season you left behind? Have you raked lifeless leaves that were once vibrant shades of crimson, gold, tangerine and wished that they were back on the tree? The tree is still there, but so much of what you thought made you—you, is gone. It is brown and broken. And you feel vulnerable and bare.
You aren’t alone.
Jesus was the firstborn of all creation and He left paradise to come down here. He sat at the right hand of God and He spent a rather long season as a lowly carpenter’s son. Now, I’m not suggesting that Jesus experienced the kind of identity crisis that we do when our leaves are stripped bare. He didn’t. But He did show us how to handle a radical change of season in our lives by focusing on the mission.
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38, NIV)
Jesus chose a life of obscurity and simplicity to fulfill His Father’s call. He hung around people who were irrelevant by the world’s standard, people who couldn’t further the career some thought He should have, but they meant everything to Him. They were worth the sacrifice.
And yet, somehow, wandering around the countryside tending to the needs of the irrelevant and unknown, Jesus became the most significant figure in all of human history.
Simplicity is not the way of the world. The world prefers billboards and spotlights. At one time, I did too. But simplicity is the way of the kingdom.
As followers of the ancient way, God will often orchestrate a simple season in our lives. Simple seasons aren’t easy. No, quite often they are brutally hard filled with obscurity, anonymity, monotony, and sacrifice. But in the simple season we find buried treasure if we allow our roots to burrow deep into the rich soil of our faith, extract the truth, and allow God’s fruit to grow.
Over time, I settled into this new season of life and the parts of me that didn’t fit into my obscure role were whittled away. The person remaining is a purer version of myself than the woman I was before. She has grown some new leaves. She is more confident and less selfish. She is more generous and less superficial. She is more peaceful and less prideful. She is not as much like Jesus as she wants to be, but she is more like Jesus than she was.
I never wanted to be the woman I am today. But I like the woman I am today far more than the woman I wanted to be.
The simple season of motherhood has made me less famous but far more fruitful. It has made me less notable but more necessary.
The beauty of a new season requires the passing of another. And sometimes it takes fresh eyes to appreciate the new. It requires a matured perspective, a deeper outlook, a wiser vantage point.
When the luscious leaves that once covered your life are lying on the ground, know that God is making way for the new. You will not be bare forever. God will cover you again, and the new leaves will be much richer than the old.
Simple seasons strip us bare to make room for purer foliage. Simple seasons lift the veil of triviality from our eyes and teach us to value what truly matters. The world doesn’t value simplicity. The world values those who value the world. God values those who value eternity. And eternal investments are made when we value simple things: simple truths, simple tasks, simple roles, simple seasons.
“So if there’s anything I’ve learned in this journey I am on.
Simple truth will keep you going, simple love will keep you strong.
For there are questions without answers, and flames that never die.
And heartaches we go through are often blessings in disguise.
Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord, how could I ask for more.”
I am very grateful that I learned to appreciate simple things. They are the things that matter most to me now.
I’ve donned fancier seasons in my life, but this simple season is my favorite.
*Special thanks to Cindy Morgan and Warner Chapel Publishing for allowing me to use this excerpt of How Could I Ask For More. And thanks to my kids who, if you listen closely, may hear in the background. I love being your mom. Thank you for casting me in the role of a lifetime. It is the greatest role I have ever played.
Catherine Segars is an award-winning actress and playwright — turned stay-at-home-mother—turned author, podcaster, speaker and blogger. She is dedicated to helping parents be a godly example for their kids in an ungodly world.
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