Winter in Ohio. Year after year, it leaves me feeling as though I’ve been visited by an unwelcome guest. I dread its arrival and its company; and by the time it mercifully departs, I am of the opinion that it has long overstayed its welcome.
It’s around this very time each year – with the holidays but a fading memory and spring still a distant destination – that the cold winds seem to blow hardest. The wind chill plummets and the heating bill rises; the days get shorter, and the icicles grow longer. It’s enough to leave many of us asking, “why do we live here?”
Two years ago, a business trip took me to Finland in February. Upon my arrival, I was only slightly surprised to note that the temperature in Helsinki was actually 10 degrees warmer than the weather I had left behind in Toledo. Yep, that’s winter in Ohio for you!
Of course, winter isn’t just a climatic season; the term has also come to symbolize challenging seasons in our lives. If spring represents birth and renewal, winter is its seasonal counterpoint, often symbolizing darkness, cold, loneliness, and even approaching death.
This past weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder kicked off the (How to Survive) The Dead of Winter series by discussing how we can survive the “meh” of winter. As Ben noted, the dead of winter speaks to some of the places in our life that we don’t want to deal with. And the holiday hangover and bitter cold weather can leave us feeling lonely, depressed, burned out, worried, or just plain “meh.”
Ben pointed out that God wants us to know that just because we feel _______, doesn’t mean that we have to stay that way.
As someone who grew up in Northeast Ohio, I actually recall the winters of my youth with a degree of fondness. Looking back, I remember the snow far more than the cold. It seemed the snow was much deeper back then (of course, that recollection may be influenced by the fact that I was also a little shorter at the time). But winter also had an upside. My friends and I enjoyed rocketing down toboggan chutes, skating on frozen ponds, building snow forts (to provide shelter during snowball fights), and, of course, hoping for the holy grail of midwestern childhood: the snow day.
The point is that our perspective has much to do with how we view – and survive – winter, whether we’re referring to the season or the challenges that it symbolizes.
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
As French novelist Victor Hugo once wrote, “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” And while we cannot simply laugh away all of life’s challenges, there is ample evidence that a posture of optimism, appreciation, and faith – in essence, the cheerful heart referenced in Proverbs 17:22 – can make it easier to endure life’s difficult seasons. When viewed through this lens, we begin to see that our perspective really can help shape our reality.
As we read in Matthew 6:25-27, faith is the antidote to worry. And, as Psalm 118:24 reveals, joy is a natural companion to faith:
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Over the coming days, LivingItOut will unpack three principles for getting the “meh” out of winter:
- Acknowledge Here;
- Awareness of There; and
- Action forward.
Do you find yourself dreading the Dead of Winter? If so, what do you typically do to survive?
Take time this week to consider how you can pivot from focusing on what is broken to rejoicing in what is good in your life. As we learned this week, a cheerful heart is good medicine. Look for opportunities today to share and enjoy humor as effective medicine for “meh” moments.
Heavenly Father, I thank you for the love and light you provide in all of life’s seasons. Help me to always appreciate your gifts and be both forever faithful and grateful to you. Amen.
This post was written by Todd Romain. Todd enjoys sharing life with his wife Jessica and their family and serving at CedarCreek. He is a communications director at Owens Corning and enjoys reading, writing, music, and sports in his spare time.
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