Autumn Autumn Autumn.
What shall we do with you?
Autumn is the chance to get out those thick, cosy jumpers and scarves. It’s the beautiful spectrum of colours on the trees. It is bright red berries, ripening fruit and squirreling squirrels. Autumn is the smell of candles in pumpkins, apple bobbing and the sting of warmed hands by the bonfire.
But Autumn is also the foretaste of what’s to come, and what’s to come is not good. It’s is the first whiff of decay before the long dead season of winter. It’s ever darker nights and ever colder homes. Autumn is the whisper of a memory of low moods and decreased productivity.
That’s just what autumn does. It reminds us of the gospel.
As nights draw in and moods dip; as leaves fall, winds surge and rains soak, we’re forever being brought up short by beautiful, hope-filled things.
Life can be like this sometimes, even in the realm of parenting. Have you ever had the experience of feeling you’re in a downward spiral? The behaviour of your child seems to go from bad to worse. Your patience seems to be ebbing away, or you’re simply feeling let down by yourself – unable to be the parent you want to be, despite your best efforts? It’s the autumn of parenting.
Or perhaps you’re feeling trapped as a parent at the moment, like this is a phase of life that weighs on you and seems like it’s just the beginning of a long, hard season to come.
When you’re like this, let autumn remind you of the gospel.
It’s undeniable that there are aspects of autumn that are hard and unpleasant. And yet in the midst of this God has designed autumn in such a way as to give us glimpses of beauty and hope.
And however hard your current season of parenting is, God will send such signs. Whenever you see your child extend kindness to someone it reminds you of God’s grace. When you see your child find joy in something simple like only a child can, it reminds you of God’s grace. When your child dependently grasps your hand, or cleverly does something you weren’t expecting, or patiently waits when normally they wouldn’t, it reminds you of God’s grace.
Why does the world work like this?
God created a perfect humanity that beautifully reflected his image. But then the fall happened. Humanity was broken and was banished from the garden.
And yet God didn’t simply give humanity up as a bad job. He was well within his right to do so. Instead, in his grace, God has allowed humanity to retain something of the image of God. We still see glimpses of God’s image in humanity, amongst it’s brokenness. As Schaeffer said, we are “glorious ruins”.
God didn’t give up on humanity because he had the plan that one day he would restore us. One day he would redeem us and deal with our brokenness and restore the perfect image. That was won at the cross and will be completed in the New Creation.
So if your parenting feels like it’s going through a tough phase and feels like it’s only getting tougher, then let autumn remind you of the gospel.
In autumn we see glimpses of beauty in the midst of increasing decay and darkness.
Let that remind you of humanity and your child, who demonstrates beautiful glimpses of the image of God despite their fallenness.
And let that glimpse remind you of the God of grace who has borne with patience a rebellious humanity so that he, at great cost to himself, could restore us. Remember the new creation that’s coming, that will be the true Spring to follow a dark Autumn and Winter. Remember that, and be filled again with hope when life seems to be squeezing hope from you.
“Though the fig-tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the sheepfold
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.”