A year ago, my sweet friend Grace was in town with her husband and kids for their Spring Break. We met up at Disneyland, and I had a great time catching up with them. Somehow the topic of friends came up, and I told her that I had been working through the loss of some key relationships in my life. Grace mentioned that there are “seasons for everything.”

I’ve heard that phrase all my life, and I’ve always kind of hated—or dreaded—it. When I think of “seasons” as a metaphorical thing, that usually means something has died—a dream, a job, a friendship, an adventure, etc. When someone says to me “there are seasons to friendships,” that bums me out because the season I’m scarred by after 6 years in the Midwest is winter, so that’s my natural association. And in winter, things die. That’s been my experience with seasons, both literal and metaphorical.

I’m sure I just nodded my head that day with Grace, trying not to be the Debbie Downer I sometimes am. But then on my hour drive home, I was thinking it over a bit more. It occurred to me—apparently for the first time—that “seasons” are cyclical. I mean it’s literally how they work. Yes, winter comes and things die. But winter is not the end of the story! Spring follows winter and new life comes again.

In my experience with metaphorical “seasons” in life, I thought of them stopping at winter, but that wasn’t the whole story. Sitting in traffic on the 5 freeway, my friendship with Jerri came to mind. All my life, “seasons” as applied to friendships has meant death and sadness since, in my mind, once you’re in, you’re in for life, so if a friendship has a “season,” that’s the saddest thing. I hate friendships ending. But my friendship with Jerri epitomizes an “aha!” moment for me regarding seasons.

Jerri and I met when we were paired up as co-counselors at summer camp in 2007 when I was 20 and she was 19. We had a ton of adventures, were famous (or infamous?) for doing something dumb and then saying “My baddddd,” and got super close as we tried to be adults to twelve 13 and 14-year-old girls.

Jerri is from the city where I was born, and her house was 15 minutes or less from ours in North Dallas. We had all these mutual friends—including my high school principal and his family—but somehow had never met. We even went to the same church when I was a child, so we actually may have met, but since she was a grade below me, I think we were ships in the night at Sunday School.

Anyway, Jerri became a really good friend. We worked at camp the next summer together, too, and though we weren’t co-counselors again, we stayed close. We would meet up if we were both home from college on breaks, getting shaved ice and having a good time. After college, I moved to Hawaii, and she was finishing up school in Texas. When she and her husband got married, I was invited to their small wedding, but it was in Florida and I was in Hawaii without enough personal days from my teaching job to make the journey mid-semester.

A few years passed, and my distance in Hawaii plus then move back to Wheaton for grad school was coupled with Jerri and her husband’s move to another state and starting their family, and we lost regular touch. Nothing happened and there was no falling out; we were still friends and would text each other on birthdays and like each other’s social media posts, but life happened.

Fast forward to the summer of 2019: Jerri and her family moved out to Southern California. We hadn’t truly talked outside of social media likes and comments in five or six years, but in August of that year, I met her at Disneyland, seeing her for the first time in close to a decade and meeting her kids for the first time.

Since then, in the past 4 years Jerri has easily become one of my best friends, and her family has completely welcomed me into their lives. Their being in Southern California may be good for the work they’re doing here and the lives they’re impacting, but if they did none of that, selfishly, their being here has changed the game for me and made California feel like home.

They are an absolute gift and have been a lifeline. They invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them in 2021, and we camped together at Yosemite like I was just one of the family. Their kids call me courtesy of Alexa and their technological wizardry, and it’s one of my favorite things when I see “Jerri” calling and pick up to silence on the other end before I hear giggles over speakerphone.

Back to that day at Disneyland: on my hour drive home after time with Grace and her family, Jerri’s name came to mind as a revelation: seasons don’t just mean things die. Yes, that can happen. But new life comes again. Winter is limited because spring is on its tail.

Jerri’s was a friendship I never could have scripted coming back around in such full force—two North Dallas girls who met at summer camp in the Midwest in 2007 and now live in Southern California in 2023. (Let it be known that Texans don’t migrate out to California; the opposite is nearly always true.)

Jerri’s friendship is so hopeful for me—the reminder that yes, there are seasons to everything, but that can be a hopeful reality! Seasons are cyclical, after all. We never know how God is going to bring something back around; it may be years down the road, but He can use it, redeem it, and renew it.

Some friendships die forever. Some dreams die forever. Some jobs die forever. But spring still comes and life comes around again—new friendships, new dreams, new jobs. And sometimes, those same friendships re-bloom, old dreams find new life, and former jobs come back around again.

I went back to Disneyland to see my friend Grace and her family again the next day, and I was so excited to tell her about the lightbulb moment I’d had. I’m sure she was thinking, “Yes, Hannah, everyone in the world knows that seasons are cyclical. This is not a new revelation” (except Grace is the sweetest, so I’m sure she was genuinely excited for me). But I just needed to tell her that her words had gotten me thinking, realizing the gift of my friend Jerri and the hope her friendship has given me for other friendships or dreams which have gone the way of metaphorical “seasons.”

Now when I think of seasons, there’s still sadness at change and things ending. I still hate losing friendships. Friends are still in for life in my book. There’s a lot to grieve with “winter” seasons, and I don’t want to Pollyanna this thing and gloss over the sadness of seasons ending. Sometimes things are really final and we don’t see the new blooms.

But Jerri is a gift—for so many reasons—in showing me that, even 7 or 8 years later, a friendship or dream or job or adventure can surprise you, coming back around and becoming central in your life. God is weaving all things together in ways we just can’t see, viewing things through a glass dimly as we are this side of heaven.

My hope is that, if you’re a “realist” [semi-pessimist?] like me and have tended to see metaphorical “seasons” as code for “everything ends or dies,” you’ll remember that following winter, spring comes again.

God can revive all things, and though He may not revive every thing, life and new growth come again. We never know how He might revive things we thought were lost in winter years ago. Seasons can definitely be bittersweet: there’s the end of something and yet new things will begin and old ones may just surprise us in the best way down the road.

With spring in its prime, I hope this encourages you. I hope if you see a bloom or sign of new life, you’re reminded of our hope in God who brings things back around in ways we can’t anticipate, who has a season for everything. Even amidst the sadness of a season ending, I hope you’ll see that seasons aren’t just winter; new life comes again and God has a way of reviving things, bringing hope in ways we can’t imagine.

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA
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