Why do we love fall so much?
I try to avoid walking past Teavana- but sometimes it just happens. When it does, I purposely avert my eyes. I walk on the far side of the walkway. But then I see it- the sign above the sample table says, "Pumpkin spice brulee". I audibly groan, roll my eyes, and make a mad dash to get the samples before anyone else discovers the delicious flavor offering for today. I am so excited as I hold the tiny, plastic cup to my nose that I almost spill the tea before taking in a deep, glorious breath of pumpkin spice brulee. I drink it slowly as I float on a happy cloud throughout the mall.
I'm still thinking about the smooth and spicy tea when I return home. Online I can purchase a Fall Faves Sampler. The description alone is enough to entice me to spend the money:
"Comfort in a cup. Treat yourself to a bountiful harvest of fall flavors. This tasty trio pairs perfectly with crisp days and crackling fires."
The perfect trio includes Spiced Apple Cider Tea and Mulled Pomegranate Cider Tea. I say YES.
Fall has arrived, and I am thrilled. The day Starbucks once again carries pumpkin cheesecake muffins I can't stuff my face fast enough. I visit Yates cider mill, drink gallons of cider, eat dozens of cinnamon sugar doughnuts, and happily pull out cozy sweaters and coats to hide the weight I'm gaining. I hit the pumpkin patch, carve pumpkins, and watch It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. There's just something about fall that wraps itself around me like a warm blanket and now it's finally okay to let go of summer.
A study conducted by Dr. Ben-Shahar Tal, who specializes in positive psychology and happiness, reveals that there really isn't any special magic involved to make us fall in love with fall.
"As far as we know, there's nothing inherent in autumn that makes it a happier season. However, when people inject meaning into it, then it can become a happier season. So if I choose to focus on how wonderful the apple pie, pumpkins, and leaves are, and romanticize these things, then I'm more likely to enjoy the season. Much of what we experience in life depends on the meaning or interpretation we give to it."
I can concede that I romanticize fall. That I eagerly devour the foods, and festivities that go along with this season more than any other. I can also agree that the way we approach things in life can completely affect how we view them. When I choose to enjoy the season, obviously I will enjoy it more. No surprise. But what resonates more with me is this idea that what we "experience in life depends on the meaning, or interpretation we give to it."
Last week I reflected on how we can respond to unmet expectations. This is a continual struggle for me. I can't have the things that I want right now. I can't make my interpretation of events unfold. But I can control the meaning or interpretation that I give to my circumstances.
Maybe we're so happy about fall because we interpret it to be awesome. We anticipate the brilliant colors that will spread throughout the neighborhood. We run through dead corn in the dark because it's SO FUN. We eat candy corn and pick the pieces out of our teeth because that's what you do in fall.
I'd like to be able to face every season God places in my path with such optimism. I'd like to say that I'm just as content to face what God has each day, that I trust God's plans are good every single time like I trust that fall will satisfy me. But our true hope, our true joy comes from the inheritance that God has promised us. The trials he puts in front of us to build our faith.
1 Peter 1:3-9- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
I love fall. I adore pumpkin brulee Teavana tea. I can't wait for the orange, red, and yellow leaves to pop. I love to watch the news and find out when the fall colors will peak. I wait in anticipation for the day when it's time to carve pumpkins. By God's grace I wish for more delight in my inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. I have been grieved by so many trials- but I have to choose to look at trials as faith builders. How genuine is my faith? How much praise and honor, glory and joy can I express to my God for His ultimate gift? The salvation of my soul brings joy inexpressible.
If Dr. Ben-Shahar Tal believes that we bring ourselves joy through the way we interpret our circumstances, I'm on board with facing my days with more enthusiasm. With more purpose. With more of the warm, fuzzy feelings that come with autumn. Even though I do not see God, I believe in Him. I rejoice in Him. I have joy inexpressible and thanksgiving abounding for God's good gifts brought by fall's unique abundance.