Another “Winter That Wasn’t” ?!?
Written by Tammy Walls
I’ve always liked winter. I like snow and thick, cable knit sweaters. The glow of a fireplace, while watching big, fluffy snowflakes come down. Homemade soup, simmering on the stove, after going outside to clear the snow from my azaleas. I like it when darkness falls early enough for me to unwind before bedtime. Oh, and snow. I really, really like snow!
Sadly, as I’ve grown older (and wiser), I’ve come to recognize a couple of dark reasons playing into my fondness of the cold season. Being prone to brief periods of depression, winter seems to give me permission to hibernate. Work, church, and home are the only requirements, other than a trip to the supermarket every now and then. After holiday get-togethers are behind me, social events slack off. It’s as though the bar of interaction expectation is moved down a few notches, allowing me to hide from the world.
Now, on to the second reason. What good is depression without a nice dose of low self-esteem, right? Even in my twenties, at 125 lbs., I saw myself as being overweight. Fast forward through the birth of 3 children, along with a few very stressful life events. Not only were an additional 25 years tacked on to my age, there were also that many pounds, plus a few more, added to the number on the bathroom scales. Did I mention the fact that I’m only 5’3”? Comfort eating is my friend. Stress, worry, frustration, fear, and grief trigger cravings for NY style cheesecake. You can likely guess the correlation to the winter months without reading the next sentence. I dreaded short-sleeve weather as if it were punishment. I needed those sweaters and jeans like a 2-year-old needs a security blanket.
For the past couple of years, I’ve come to embrace what I’ve known all along…the fact that I need to condition myself to crave God, rather than the rich creaminess of cherry-topped fat and calories. I’d like to say I’m never tempted to dive in to a block of Philly cream cheese when I’m having a bad day, but that is far from the truth. Yet, I don’t do it instinctively and, if I falter, I try really hard to see myself through God’s eyes. No, I haven’t perfected that one, either. But, I’m making progress!
Then, this morning, God used something as simple as a flower to speak His truth into my heart. As I pulled out of my driveway, I noticed my neighbor’s forsythia, in full bloom. The middle of January, and there they were. My heart fell, as I thought about last year’s lack of winter, when God had chosen to only send a few flurries of snow my way. In its place had been warm, almost sultry temperatures; a perpetual month of May. And, despite a handful of nice, cold days this year, the past week has been filled with almost tropical weather. Yesterday, we actually had to turn on the AC! Just as my pity party was about to begin, my Father showed me that, in much the same way as springtime showing up in midwinter, the dark times in our lives need to give way to hope. Past hurts have been an element in the depression that has always nagged away at my being. How many times do we cling to damaging moments in the same fashion as my attachment to winter? And, how many blessings have we missed by refusing to let God bring springtime into our hearts? Satan loves that type of self-defeating mindset.
While I still hope for one big snow before warm weather is here to stay, I’m also delighting in the gift of life all around me. Whether it’s flowers in the middle of winter, or the gift of new mercies I’m granted each morning, we truly do serve a gracious, loving Father.
“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You. For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:11, NIV)