I’ve lived in the Midwest my entire life and I hate winter. Hate it. While my friends get excited about pulling out their cozy sweaters, stylish scarves, and collections of boots, I can feel the life being drained out of me with every additional layer of clothing I have to pile onto my body to give myself the illusion that it will actually keep me warm.
I, on the other hand, have a love affair with the sun.
My near obsession with warmth has created one of the most long-standing conflicts in my marriage — determining the appropriate time to either crack a window or turn on the air conditioner in the car on a hot day. My husband’s position is that this should be done immediately. Mine is to wait at least five minutes — just to absorb the heat.
Every year, as winter approaches, I enter a corresponding season of mourning. I get moody, cranky, overwhelmed, and am overcome by the urge to undertake major organization projects. I think a major contributing factor to all of this is that my family of four — consisting of myself, my husband, and our two boys under the age of three — lives in a two bedroom condo. Most of the time, I am content with the simplicity our living situation affords us. But the ushering in of the cold feels like a loss of precious square footage as we can no longer access the outdoors, where we try to spend as much time as possible.
I often tell myself that if I were to move to a warmer climate, I would never take it for granted. I’m convinced that I would be forever satisfied with an endless string of mild, sun-filled days, and only the hint of passing seasons. I dream of the day I will throw my enormous down coat and my ice scraper into the trash and never look back.
And yet, when I move beyond the surface to the heart of this desire, I am aware that what I ultimately want is comfort.
If I’m honest with myself, I often want my life to look like my ideal day — simple, uncomplicated, and without a lot of layers. The pull of an efficient, emotionally disconnected, and spiritually drowsy Christian life has always been my downfall. I feel like my faith journey has been filled with experiences of waking up, unaware of how long I had been sleeping.
But real life just isn’t that way. It’s gritty and messy. But it’s also inspiring and beautiful.
Real life consists of high peaks and deep valleys. And while much of life is lived in the middle, the truth is that I’ve been most transformed by the seasons where I’ve taken the risk to set my comfort aside. There, I’ve encountered grief and pain and sadness I thought might swallow me whole. I’ve also experienced sweetness and beauty and intimacy with God I never thought could be possible for me.
Of all the seasons I’ve encountered, the spiritual winters have shaped me the most — to the point I almost miss them when they’re gone because I experience the nearness of God so deeply.
Our brushes with darkness cause the light to shine even brighter.
The longing we experience in seasons of spiritual, physical, and emotional deadness and disappointment points us beyond temporal satisfaction to the One who fills our souls and invites us into life. A life where intimacy with God is forged over hard-fought battles of the soul and where the wounds we’ve suffered and the lies we’ve believed are meticulously removed and absorbed by the gospel of grace.
As the bitter sting of winter fades from the air and the promise of hope and new life returns, I pray that a hint of its cold remains in my heart, keeping it awake to the ever-present invitation to participate in God’s redemptive story, filling earth with heaven, and living life abundantly.Leave a Comment