Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog, indicated on Sunday that spring will be here early this year. Had this prediction been given any of my other 16 winters here in MO, words like elated, jubilant, and ecstatic would have described my reaction.
But this year was different. I’m joyful that spring is around the corner, don’t get me wrong. It is my favorite season after all. But there’s also a part of me that will miss winter.
This realization surprised me last week. MO winters are usually harsh for this southern gal. Darkness comes in early and stays late. Cold winds and snow relentlessly blow. Nature appears barren, dead, drab.
But this year, those things have brought joy instead of despondency.
Last year I participated in a challenge designed to get kids and families to spend more time outside. The idea of 1,000 Hours Outside is to spend this amount of time outside in a year. A hefty goal for sure! We made it to 915 last year.
While we didn’t quite reach the goal, my attitude towards being outside in all kinds of weather changed drastically. I saw benefits and beauty to rain, cloudiness, and even cold that before would have kept me sequestered indoors.
This year we have already put in 50+ hours outside – last year we didn’t reach that many until mid-March. Progress! I’ve been outside everyday so far in 2020 and it’s enabled me see winter in a different way.
Unique Beauty – If you look past the harshness and drabness, there is a special beauty in winter. Falling snow. Chirping birds. Bright red rose hips. Gorgeous sunsets. Sparkling ice crystals. Blue juniper berries.
Mandatory Rest – Creation understands what so many of us miss. Regular rest is necessary in the cycle of life. Plants must rest, even die, in order to give life again.
Time of Preparation – This time of rest is really a time of preparation for what lies ahead. The cold of winter is needed in order to prepare for the tremendous growth of spring.
Special Comforts – Winter is demanding in many ways. Finding ways to mitigate its heaviness is essential. Roaring fires. Toasted marshmallows. Cozy blankets. Good books. Hot cocoa. Outdoor play.
While there is a hidden beauty to winter, there is also a bleakness to it as well. They are two sides of a coin so to speak. It would be ludicrous to attempt to hide the difficult aspects of winter. But it would be equally foolish to dwell only on the difficulties and miss the beauties.
I’ve discovered the key to enjoying winter lies in fixing my mind on the good. For years, my mind has dwelled only on the bleakness, drabness, and harshness. As a result, I dreaded the appearance of winter long before it ever arrived.
Being outside this winter has taught me to face the reality of what is there but not to stop there. Instead, I am learning to push past it to the hidden allure of what surrounds me.
The Winter of Our Life
There are seasons of winter that come into our lives too. Death. Sickness. Financial difficulty. Unspoken pain. Damaged relationships. They bring with them sadness, despondency, bleakness.
It’s easy in these seasons of life to do what I have done for sixteen winters and become so focused on the suffering and pain that we forget the other side of what is happening.
God promises that suffering is for our good and his glory. He allows suffering to conform us to the image of Christ and to be a testimony of his grace and enabling to those around us.
In every season of winter in our lives there are unique beauties. Specific provisions. Steady encouragement. Lights in the darkness that seems to surround us.
God invites us in these seasons to rest. To lay aside normal busyness and commitments. To listen and reflect on his words. To allow him to prepare in us whatever is needed for the seasons ahead. He doesn’t intend for us to continue to produce in the same ways we were. It is a season of dormancy. He is still very much at work, but we won’t always know the how or what.
Maybe you find yourself in the midst of winter – either literally for those in the Northern Hemisphere, or in a season of winter in life.
What beauty does God want to reveal to you during this season? How is God inviting you to move past the harshness of winter into its allure? What are ways that you can continue to enjoy God even when it is harder to sense what he is doing?
Spend some time reflecting on these questions and asking God to lead you to himself in this season of winter.
Want a list of practical ideas to help give you ideas? I created a printout just for you! Enter your email address below to have it sent directly to your inbox. In it you’ll find five simple ideas you can use to enjoy God during the winter season.
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