I live in a place where the climate is considered “seasonal,” meaning, we are able to distinctly see the beauty of all four seasons. When I lived in Southern California for a brief time, I missed the fall and winter seasons of home because it only rained three weeks out of the year and was a gorgeous 80 degrees for the rest of winter. There’s just something about the changing of seasons that makes me feel like time keeps moving, progress is made….
Years ago I was introduced to the idea of seasonal change within our own lives, where we proverbially and non-sequentially ebb and flow through the same seasons we see in nature, and was asked which season I was in. I remember I was sitting amongst hundreds of women, and I was so grateful to stand when the season of Summer was mentioned. I saw other friends of mine and other women standing during Summer, and then Fall, and then the speaker asked the women who were in the season of Winter to stand. I was sitting next to my mom, and she stood.
I had no idea my mom would characterize her life as being in Winter. She was so tenacious and bright and cheerful! How could that be? And then I looked around at all the other women who saw their own lives through the Winter lens. There were many. How could these friends and family members of mine be living a life of gloom? I immediately felt pity and wanted their lives to change.
If we’re lucky, all of us at one time may have found ourselves in a season of Winter. I remember walking through mine. Praise was far from my lips, and Joy far from my heart. It was a long Winter. Much longer than I could’ve ever imagined. And I wasn’t happy about it. But still there I sat. Feeling the creaking and groaning of my soul being stretched and grown like no other. Feeling very fruitless. Weak. Alone.
Ever felt that way?
Praise was far from my lips,
and Joy far from my heart.
It was a long winter.
For those of you in Winter right now, and for those who will be in the future, take note.
Give yourselves grace
Winters are harsh and cold and little life can be found on the outside. Remember that it’s here that the Lord wants us to sit with Him, be still with Him, and depend on Him. Relationships grow most when you walk through hard times together, and our relationship with God is no exception. Look at Winter as an opportunity to grow. And remember you’re not alone, or abnormal. As shocked as I was to see so many women stand years ago, it reminds me now that there are others in my life that are in Winter too. You’re not a bad Christian. You don’t need to love or trust God more. It’s simply a season of life that many are familiar with.
There will be others in your life who are in Spring and Summer. Let them be there, and let yourself be in Winter and be okay with that. One of the dangers in the comparison game is not believing where you are is a gift. God is doing something deep within you! It’s a gift! Wishing for something else will ensure the focus remains on YOU, instead of on Him.
From the book I am eating alive at this moment comes the following remarks, “…we naturally grant more weight to the visible than the invisible…however it is critical that we not mistake unseen for unimportant.” God’s plan for you right now may be to stay in Winter. And it could be a while. But instead of wishing you were someplace else, trust that what He is doing in the unseen parts of your life, is rooting a faith deeper and more intimately dependent on Him. What is unseen is crucially important.
Get on your knees and praise Him for He is good. Doesn’t matter what season you are in, God is the God of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter and in His goodness He has sovereignly placed you in Winter.
Instead of wishing you were someplace else,
trust that what He is doing in the unseen parts of your life,
is rooting a faith deeper and more intimately dependent on Him.
And for those who are in (un)Winter, do not pity your friends, or encourage them that Spring will come soon, for two reasons. One. Spring may not come soon. Winter could last a lifetime. Two. Being in Winter is OKAY! God has placed them there to grow and stretch what is unseen! Let them stay there. Ask them what they are learning about God and how they have seen and felt the presence of Jesus in their lives during this season. Ask them how they can use this season to encourage someone else. Get them to look outward and upward instead of inward.
When previous successes fade and current efforts falter, we can easily mistake our fruitlessness for failure. In spiritual Winters, our fullness is thinned, so that, undistracted by our giftings, we can focus upon our character. In the absence of anything to measure, we are left with nothing to stare at except our Foundation. – Alicia Britt Chole, Annonymous
Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
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