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
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Given your love of heat…you’d love it here in NC in mid July lol. So true, that the periods of darkness make the seasons of light even more distinct. Without sadness, I don’t know that we can experience the heights of joy. I also have found that it is in the seasons of cold and darkness that I have experienced the depth, closeness, and unfathomable love of the Lord like none other. I have seen how faithful He is in our desperate times of need…and for that I’m grateful. Thank you for sharing here this am!
Lynn Piontek Schroeder says
This was great. I, too, love the warm weather and dread when the seasons change. I’ll look upon the cold in a different light now. Thank you!
Melissa Brownback says
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!
Beautifully written and such wise insights! I had to literally chuckle out loud when I realized you wrote my very life verse – “And yet, when I move beyond the surface to the heart of this desire, I am aware that what I ultimately want is comfort.” That’s me! Let my life be marked with no inconveniences, no dangers of slipping and sliding, no loss of square footage (we too live in a smaller home with a grand outdoors that we live in while warm), only comfort and warmth and sunshine all day. Ah, but life is not like that, as you say, and I believe God gives us seasons in nature to reflect seasons in our walk with Him. Even though living the warm life in sunny Southern California seems ideal to me because it never rains or snows or freezes over, it would still be life and there would be bills to pay, children to worry about, a job to (hopefully) get up for, cars to repair, etc. So, I’m better off staying where I am and appreciating life being a study in contrasts, a flow of the seasons.
Melissa Brownback says
Absolutely. I love how the flow of seasons pull us to reflect on our relationship with Christ.
Beth Williams says
I, too, want the perfect life-no inconveniences-just balmy weather. With periods of darkness comes a more closeness to God! I have experienced first hand some dark periods where I wanted out and a certain ending. God had other plans. By leaning into & praying hard to Him I found my light at the end of the tunnel. He provided a miracle for me to witness!! Because of that miracle my light is shining brighter daily! I want to show the world all the goodness God can provide!
Melissa Brownback says
It’s always so powerful to hear about how God brings redemption to our darkness. Praise God for His work in your life!