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Ecclesiastes Musings - Time And Changes

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    I've been in love with Ecclesiastes 3 for years. I originally heard it in a movie of all places (the melodramatic Flowers in the Attic from the 80s), but when reading in the bible it resonates with me. I find it useful to try and hold on to this scripture when going through difficult changes, knowing that if we are currently battling a storm, then the Lord our God still has peace for us on the horizons.

    I've been thinking about this scripture more lately since I'm coming to a change in journey with my son, who will be 18 in May. 18 can be a hopeful age for the child who yearns for adulthood and independence, but a frightening shift for the single mother who has spent the last 18 years living for her son. It's empty nest syndrome to the nth degree, and isn't helped by the fact that my son seems to have shifted his plans the last few months, which seems like he's excluding me. I have no idea why this shift and distance, but my mother tells me it is teenage hormones, a surge of independence, and all that "fun stuff" that happens with transitioning to young adulthood.

    Still, it's hard. I think to distract myself by taking better care of myself with new routines, new hobbies, new adventures. I try to focus on the scripture that states there a time for everything under the season.


    A Time for Everything

    For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

    a time to be born, and a time to die;
    a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
    a time to kill, and a time to heal;
    a time to break up, and a time to build up;
    a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
    a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
    a time to seek, and a time to lose;
    a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
    a time to tear, and a time to sew;
    a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
    a time to love, and a time to hate;
    a time for war, and a time for peace.


    The areas I focus on with this shift in my son,

    a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
    a time to seek, and a time to lose;
    a time to keep, and a time to cast away;


    I would never actually cast away my son, but for his future and independence, I must learn to let go a little. I will always be ready to embrace him, but he has made it clear lately he wants to be embraced less and stand more on his own. I will always seek time with my son, but my heart feels it is losing a huge part of my life as he grows. My mother assures me this is normal, and a friend tells me he will likely want to rebond again later. I know I did with my own parents.


    Interestingly enough, when I think of my parents, I think of these verses:

    a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
    a time to love, and a time to hate;
    a time for war, and a time for peace.


    As strange as that may sound, my parents and I were at war with each other when I was growing up. PTSD and mental illness on both sides caused this. There was not peace, only disharmony. There was unhealthy despair and anger. Now through healing, we have come together as adults and have come to know each other all over again, attaching and becoming parent and daughter, best friends, support systems, companions. I do not bring up the past, there is no sense to speak of it now. To do so would only spread strife, cause anger, shed guilt. It is a time to keep silent, there is no point in bringing up the past when it only harms the present.

    I try to remember this as well --- yes, it refers more to a larger, bigger picture of change with God's ultimate plans for us and His creation, but I like to think it also applies to some of the points of Ecclesiastes, that old things may pass away and renew in the here and now, from the beginning to the end.


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    One of the things in life that I am thankful to God for the most is that I was able to set aside my resentment, forgive my parents fully, and have healthy parents in my life. A friend told me when I was in my twenties that my mother confided in him that we had never been close, and she always wished we had been. Amazingly, and thanks be to God, once I was in my early thirties we became close again (first time since I was a small child) From then they have become invaluable and God has been generous. I couldn't imagine my life without them in it, and I am just so happy I cast away stones and have this time of peace with them.

    On Life, On Death:

    Something my mother told me once when we were watching a comedy where someone died, and people were joking after crying at the funeral, was that laughter can be the best medicine when trying to feel better with grief. I was confused why people were laughing when they were supposed to be sad, so she explained this to me and it stuck. Tears may be the only thing you feel for a time, but sometimes laughter can bring some light to the heart. Sitting around outside my uncle's ICU room where he was passing away, my dad's friends came in and started sharing good, funny stories about my Uncle over the years. It was a distraction from the waiting, struggling silence, and I know everyone appreciated the stories and lifting our spirits for a time.

    Even what seems negative may not necessarily be negative:

    It appears that one side of the sentence is good, one side is bad. But is this always the case? Instead of thinking I have half a life of misery to look forward to with these negative times, and half a life of positive, I have to ask myself is this really the way to look at it?

    a time to be born, and a time to die;

    Death is tragedy, it is grief, it is terrible. Is there an emotion worse than grief? Is there a loss in life worse than the death of a loved one? But, is Death as horrible as we make it? Does God see Death as horrible? We are not meant to stay alive in this form on this Earth in this sinful state. We are meant to end, and begin again. It is the ultimate change, but according to God, it is crossing the finish line and meeting the ultimate, best change.

    I find Timothy's words some of the most beautiful and peaceful in scripture. They are ending words, tired words perhaps, but also hopeful ones. I think of how exhausted we feel doing hard work, but then I think of the sore, relaxed feeling when it all done. Tired, yes, but also a peaceful sense of it being through, accomplishment, that you tried and succeeded.

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    a time to kill, and a time to heal; --- "Kill" is a negative word, but perhaps this doesn't always mean to kill a person. It can also mean to kill a negativity or sin in life, or a polluting friendship, and then to heal from it.

    a time to break up, and a time to build up; -- breaking up and wearing down can be painful, but also conditioning and soothing when it's all said and done.

    a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance;


    Weeping and mourning isn't a joy; in fact, I fear it. But crying is mourning is a way of healing and lifting burdens. Even if I don't want to get upset enough to cry, a full cry holds cathartic value like little else. I'm tired after crying because so much has been lifted and released. Cry and let go, then rest for awhile.

    It all renews and begins again, after all.

Comments

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  1. danbuter
    Ecclesiastes is my favorite book of the Bible. I really liked this post! Well written and interesting!
    1. JCFantasy23
      Thank you. I've been having an urge to study it more lately. I appreciate the comments.