About a year ago, when I was standing in the hallway of the X-ray department waiting for my father to come out of the examination room, my eyes caught sight of a framed photo with a verse that made an impression on me and has stayed with me ever since. It read, “Life’s not about waiting for the storms to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
Most of us would agree that dancing in the rain isn’t exactly our idea of a good time; after all, it means we have to submit to getting wet and maybe cold too. How we wish we could just avoid the rain, either by holding an umbrella or running quickly to our destination point! How many of us willingly allow ourselves to get wet? Even as we look at all that is new in the welcoming season of spring, how many of us accept all of the changes? Don’t we wish we could just skip over the rain and the insects and just have warm, bright sunshine, knowing all along that flowers, trees, grass, and all that lives need water to grow effectively?
The seasonal weather changes are comparable to the seasons of life. “There is a season for all things . . . 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 break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:2–4).
Yet do we welcome all that life brings? Do we trust enough in God? I dare say no, at least not wholeheartedly, though maybe if we did, we would find joy and inner peace. The “seasons” of our lives have many parts, including our day-to-day relationships with family members, friends, and co-workers, as well as the unexpected events that occur and the people whom God allows us to encounter. How do we react or respond, especially to things that are out of our control? Do we have love in our hearts for our neighbour?
Let us consider Christ and how He welcomed all people, all circumstances, and everything that may have been unexpected. He engaged each person; He never turned anyone away regardless of how He was treated. And when it came time for Him to be arrested, He accepted this too; He trusted God in all things. What an example for us! What did Christ do when He heard the sad news that His friend St. John the Baptist had been killed? “He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself.” (Matthew 14:13) But when He realized that the multitudes were following Him and they were hungry after a long day, He didn’t say, “Leave me; I want to be alone now,” even though His disciples thought it would be best for Him to do so. Instead we see Christ’s empathy for the people, how He looked beyond Himself and His own needs. In His mercy He healed the sick among them, and He fed them with the miracle of the five loaves and two fish. So did Christ willingly accept the unexpected? Did He put His wishes aside for the sake of others? Yes, of course He did. This may have seemed easy to do, a nice little story, but His whole life was truly an act of love, of selflessness, and of surrendering His will.
Likewise, within our own families, whatever joys, conflicts, or even illnesses we may experience, they are there to help mend our spiritual infirmities and lift up our hearts to God, who will take them as His own, relieving us of our burden: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
Learning To Be Simple
So how can we trust more in God? One important way is by learning to be simple. This is not easy to do, but it does make life easier by relieving us of unnecessary anxiety, which can have effects as harmful as those of radiation. It is an ascetic exercise to release the control we falsely believe that we have over our own lives and the lives of our family members, especially our children. When they are young, we worry excessively about their safety, and as they grow older we can easily become obsessed with what and who they will become. We inadvertently teach them to become anxious due to our own anxieties. Releasing control is a necessary step in trusting God. After all, as parents, we must always remember that, even though God has entrusted us with the sacred task of caring for our children, they ultimately belong to Him.
In fact, it is in and through the eyes of a child that we can learn how to simplify our own lives. As adults, if we’re honest, we’ll admit that children can teach us a lot about what life is truly about. They have few expectations; when they wake up in the morning, they are ready to take on the coming day, and when it comes to the changing seasons, they just look around in awe. Have you ever observed the joy in a child’s face as it splashes around in a puddle in the rain or makes snow angels on a winter’s day? Children just take the changing weather as a part of life, as if they instinctively know that God is taking care of everything. They are much more insightful than we are in accepting God’s will. I will never forget my experience at a children’s hospital where I had the blessing to work for two years. I was able to observe the children, many with terminal illnesses, walking or playing in the hallways with smiles on their faces, pulling along their IV poles without a single complaint. This was remarkable to me. If a child can endure, who are we to complain?
The seasons of our life provide the perfect opportunity for each unique soul to remember the simplicity of a child and become vigilant in its efforts to love and trust God. Then we can affirm what is happening in and around us; we can surrender our desire to take charge and instead accept in what He allows, trusting in His loving embrace and receiving strength during our times of weakness. In this way, when the storms pass, we can rejoice and give thanks to Him who is the Author of Life.
“Be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).
Presvytera Ourania Chatzis is a licensed pharmacist in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She is married to Fr. Stavros Chatzis, who is the priest at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Windsor, and they have two children, Anna and Evangelos Michael. She is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and currently enjoys raising her children and offering her time in the parish as Sunday school coordinator and teacher; she also manages the church bookstore ministry with a mission-minded focus. In the summer of 2001, she served on a short-term mission team to Romania, where her profound experience led her to serve the Church with greater conviction: she returned to school to earn a master’s of theological studies from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology.