Winter…judging by the scene outside my windows, it’s arrived in grand style. Overnight, a white blanket has been pulled up and tucked under the chin of what just days ago was lush, green grass. The fire-colored leaves fell all too quickly and are gone, leaving behind naked, gray branches. The world outside is nearly void of color save for the white and hints of slate.
It’s no secret that I don’t enjoy winter weather. I’m not a fan of the cold or having to travel on slick roads. Enduring what look like long, gloomy sunless months isn’t appealing either, especially when the lovely warm sun is a fond and close memory.
Every year I dread winter but this year, instead of biding my time until the early signs of spring unfold, I have decided to dwell in the season…see what I can learn here and I strive to find joy here, for this season of weather.
Every season has purpose whether it’s a literal season of the year or a season of life. A few years ago, right after I was newly widowed, I fell into a dark grief abyss. It hit me like a wall when denial no longer served a purpose. It was a dim, lonely, and exhausting place, one I had to walk alone with God. I spent my days with only enough energy to “get by” doing the necessities, taking care of my children, barely working, performing household chores, doing my best to do the most important…being available and supportive for my children. I’m sure even there, I fell short.
This season was the most painful and I pray I never endure such pain again. But it was also necessary. It was in the brokenness that God was able to rebuild me, stronger, healthier. Maybe that was the way He intended me to be all along and I’d gone off-plan somewhere along the line. I shed daily tears during what I call my period of “coming out of the dark.” I knew at some point the pain would subside, the lessons would be learned, I would be shiny and new again. But the pain was suffocating and fatiguing and although I had some pretty great people I leaned on during that time, there was really no help that could come except from Above. I truly had to walk that journey side-by-side with God and avail myself to what He wanted me to learn there.
It was very real and very raw. Usually we’re all fairly crafty at hiding our emotions, especially when we’re hurting. But during this phase, I couldn’t hide. It was as if my pain lived right on the surface of my very skin. It was apparent to everyone and couldn’t be masked. It was red and raw and burning and so present that sometimes I cried my way through church or through the grocery store. All the hurt of what felt like a thousand gaping wounds, erupted and poured out with unstoppable force. I devoured books during this time. Any Christian book about anyone who’d suffered and survived appealed to me and I read it. And I wrote. I wrote night and day and regurgitated my soul onto pages and pages of journaling. I talked to people who’d suffered and come out the other side, I sang hopeful songs and pictured sunshine on my face again, and I heaped loving onto my children. And I prayed and I waited. And eventually, it was good.
I emerged with a plan and a purpose and peace.
For the first time ever I felt comfortable in my skin and in my place in life. Being a mom was always my best and most-preferred role. I wanted to be a good mom and spend every ounce of time I could with my children. Of all things in the world, that was my favorite. I felt no need to run after dating and neither did I feel lonely. I was good with who I was and I didn’t plan to mess that up by making any compromises. I made certain in my head and on paper what my goals were for my life and what I would and would not accept in it.
The winter has value. The cold and darkness has a lot of teach us and joy and light truly do come. God carried me through that journey. He led me to what I needed to do and learn to come out of it remade, healed, patched up nicely. And for that, I am grateful.