“Winter makes everything terrible,” I thought. I was sitting at an intersection, getting ready to pull out of the grocery store parking lot, watching a little car struggle to make its way up the hill. It was covered in splotches of ice and snow and grime collected when one too many trucks passed it on the interstate on a slushy day. The windshield was clear, but there was still snow on the roof and the hood and icicles clinging to the bottom of the doors and bumper and mud flaps. It seemed to be shaking as it passed, as if to say, “No, please no! It’s far too cold to move!”
I watched it in pity and thought, “yes, this is awful.”
Winter makes everything more difficult. I hate almost everything about it. I hate having to warm up my car for ten minutes before making the three minute drive to church. It wheezes and sputters and screams at me as I turn the key. On days where I can’t afford the wait, I turn up the radio so I don’t have to hear the engine whine as I drove the car down the block.
There is a reason that most winter movies involve Christmas. December snow is lovely and white and people aren’t quite sick of it yet. But February snow is dirty and ugly and used. The spots near the sidewalks where someone has consistently kept up with a snow blower look like some sort of an archeological dig. You can clearly see the various layers of snow and ice and filth, like a history of the season’s snowfalls.
This is the time of year when I down handfuls of vitamin D to ward off the depression induced by a lack of sunlight. It’s the time of year when I purchase a gym membership just so I can go for a walk without the fear of losing any extremities.
This is also the time of year when I wonder about my ancestors. I huddle on the couch near the radiator, wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt and heavy socks and sometimes mittens. And I listen to the wind howl and whip outside. And I wonder how the pioneers possibly stood it in their sod houses and shacks with no snow blowers or internet. I wonder if it was maybe only after they spent their last dollar and planted their last seeds and cut up their wagon to use for building materials that they realized, oh goodness, this is really actually the worst place ever. And by then it was too late to go back home.
I do not feel this way in the late spring and in summer and early fall. I get in the car to drive to no place in particular. I just want to ride the ribbon of road past vast stretches of unpopulated prairie, watching the land take on a new beauty for the season. Corn and soybean fields color the earth a brilliant green as they grow. Wheat fields near harvest time transform the landscape into an ocean of dazzling gold, while long grasses on pasture hillsides ripple like the waves of the sea. I walk barefoot in the grass. I breathe in clean, fresh air that’s been warmed by the sunshine and sweetened by wild flowers. I spread out a blanket in the yard and spend an afternoon reading and napping, while I let the luscious vitamin D seep through my skin and right into my bones. I am warm, and it feels wonderful. I enjoy the scenery, and quiet moments at uncongested lakes, and bike rides down gravel roads, and so many other things that those of us who live in rural areas are blessed with.
And I suppose that’s what keeps me, and so many others like me, here.
We know that even during months, and months, and uffda, months of winter, we always have the hope of spring.
Because spring is coming. It must. That is just how it is. And even after the longest winters, we are never disappointed. The winter does eventually end. And spring, or at least summer, arrives, carrying warmth and sunshine and new life.
We have faith that spring is coming, and it’s what pulls us through the dark, freezing, blustery days and nights.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
In life we all go through seasons. And sometimes it feels like we are in winter, and we’re that little snow packed car shaking as it wheezes up the hill. Or we’re like the February snow, feeling dirty and used up, longing for the freshness of December.
If that’s you right now, here’s some encouragement.
Spring is coming. It must. It’s what we’ve been promised. And with it comes warmth, and fresh air, and most importantly, new life.
God’s promises are even more reliable than the changing of the seasons. And eventually you’ll get to take off that heavy parka and put on a garment of joy. (See Psalm 30:11-12)
So whether your winter is literal or metaphorical, hang in there. Spring is coming.