I try not to be a complainy kind of person. “Do your best with what you’ve got” is my anthem. An attitude of gratitude, and all that jazz. When the silver lining wants to play hide-and-seek, I can find it in less time than it took for Adele Dazeem to get a Twitter handle.
I especially try not to complain about the weather. First, because it is out of my control and whining won’t fix it. And second, because I know there are so many people who have suffered absolutely catastrophic weather; I dare not compare the cold to their tragedies.
That said…this winter. Oh, this winter. The profanities are welling up within me! I am so near the point of eruption that I fear for myself and everyone around me. This bone-chilling, joy-sucking, mind-numbing, psycho-stabbing cold… When will it end?!?! Why, oh why, won’t it end?!?!
This winter sucks buffalo chips and I am so over it. I want to be Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry: “I had enough so I said ‘when’.”
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way.
This indefinite wait for warmth is an apt analogy for those times in life when you are so very desperate for the pain to be over – or, what some might call “the winter of the soul”. It can be absolutely excruciating to feel like you’re at your breaking point and know that you still have to get up and face the next day and it probably won’t be any better than yesterday was. Or the day before that. Or the day before that.
And sometimes when we’ve gone through all the healthy, normal and expected responses (grief, prayer, counseling, anger, Bible studies and other self-help materials, carefully constructed cheer, more anger, more anger, more anger), we find ourselves at the end of our reactionary capabilities. We have no emotional energy left to expend, and yet the life crisis is still going strong. We are empty. Numb.
I was at a conference recently, and the keynote speaker said he was angry. Actually, his wife told him he was angry, and that took him aback. Yes, he realized, he was angry. All the time. At everything and everybody. He wanted to kill people. The conference audience laughed at that. I think they laughed because they thought he was joking. I laughed because I knew he wasn’t.
What he said next went right into my soul – yes, even into the winter of my soul. “We need to grieve. When we don’t grieve, we harden our hearts. When we harden our hearts, we refuse the comfort of the Holy Spirit.”
Friends, I do not have an answer that will make the winter melt. I don’t have a secret formula to make everything okay. But there is comfort in the pain. Comfort is one of God’s names, one of the attributes that makes Him Who He is. He is more than Creator, more than Redeemer, more than Holy, more than Judge…He meets us in the very deepest pain.
Whether you are already numb or still in the anger-hurling stage, it is okay to let yourself grieve. Grieve the loss of whatever it is your life crisis has taken from you. Grieve the brokenness of this world. Grieve the unknowns of tomorrow.
And be comforted.
That doesn’t mean you suddenly enjoy the winter (metaphorical or literal). It means your grief is valid and you are not alone in it.
You are not alone.