I recently saw this quote and loved its description of a family: “Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.”

But families aren’t static. In fact, in our lives, one of the main things that changes as we go through the seasons of life is our relationships with family. As my three-year-old son recently said, “First, you are a boy, then you turn into a dad, then you turn into a grandpa.” Oh, for the simplicity of a child.

Life is a little more complicated than that, but one thing that’s certain is that we all go through seasons in life. Some, we look forward to and are grateful for. Some, we don’t enjoy or like to think about. King Solomon described the cycle of life in Ecclesiastes 3—seasons of birth and of death, of planting and of harvesting, of trying and of giving up, of gaining and of losing, of grieving and of laughing.

There are seasons of stretching, where God is working to shape something new in our hearts. Seasons of passionate, growing love—and drier seasons, where love is tested. Seasons of blessings—and seasons of wondering where all those blessings that others seem to be experiencing are.

It’s important to understand that we experience seasons in life and to figure out what season—or seasons—we’re currently living in. While we can’t change the difficult seasons, we can change our perspective of them. Even the trying times can be beautiful—but only if we learn to see them from a different perspective. Maria Fontaine’s feature article in this issue (“Appreciating Aging” is a great example of doing that.