This Year Has Changed Me

Autumn has been incredibly graceful this year.

In Iowa, this season is usually an unpredictable tug o war between autumn and an ever looming winter. The fallout is usually a flurry of snow, wildly fluctuating temperatures and relentless wind that violently scrubs the land of all things giving it character. Sometimes autumn, with all its glorious color and light, will only last for a couple weeks. Here, then gone. A cruel flirting .

But this season feels different. I have tried my best to fully immerse myself in the changing season, and the experience feels different. More purposeful. Less harried.

As I scan through pictures from previous autumns, I’m reminded that this isn’t the first beautiful autumn we’ve had. It’s easy for me to forget sometimes, when fixated deeply within the seasonal changes. how similar they really are year over year.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this.

So if not the weather and the season, what might be affecting my mood in such a way?

I’ve noticed a shift in my mindset, although I can’t recall exactly when that shift has occurred. It wasn’t an intentional or specific action. I didn’t plan for a mindset change. There was no date circled on the calendar on which this mindset change would take place (although that’s not a bad idea).

It kind of happened organically. A shifting from one perspective to another. I learned how to see things differently, to challenge assumptions I’ve had about myself and the world around me. To evolve.

A year like 2020 might do that. A year that forced many of us to quiet down our lives a little. To reflect.

This was a year that forced a lot of us to change many of the fundamental ways we live our lives. To adapt and adapt quickly. It was a disruptive year that affected sports, the way we shop for groceries and how we engage with our neighbors.

This led to a lot of bad feelings and frustration, but eventually for me it led to contentment. Not appeasement or apprehension. But contentment.

Something I have come to realize is that contentment does not come from having control over every aspect of my life, but rather learning to live within the means of the things I can control and letting go all of the rest. Being okay with letting those things go. Acknowledging the risk that is still there that things may happen to us in which we are not equipped or prepared to face. But peace comes in knowing that my faith is strong enough, my relationships are strong enough, my mindset is strong enough to overcome those things when they do happen.

I won’t be a victim. And I won’t let those things anchor or shipwreck me.

My time is better spent investing in the things that I have influence over and being purposeful in strengthening those things. Relationships. My attitude. My faith. These are the things I want to anchor me. To define me. These are the things that will strengthen me when things happen that are outside of my control.

It’s a lesson that is still stretching me. I have the scars to prove it.

Because I’m a person who wants to have a clear sense of direction. And when the future is muddy, when my way of life is thwarted or challenged, I get antsy. I don’t like being a boat adrift on an unsettled sea. I want to grab the rudder and pick a direction and move.

But sometimes the rudder is broken. And sometimes, in the drifting, we can learn the greatest things about ourselves.

This year has stripped me of many things.

Things that once gave me joy now have lost their power.

In their place, I am finding that I crave simpler things.

The stillness of early morning, just before dawn. The consistency of daily chores on the farm. The satisfaction that comes through creativity and building things with my hands. Meaningful human connection.

My faith has deepened. And so has my desire to be purposeful rather than incidental. Mindful rather than inattentive. Conscious instead of distracted.

The world and its seasons will change. Eventually all things will come crashing down around us. But I will not fear.

This autumn really is beautiful.

Be well.

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