The warm weather is gone. The skies have turned a dismal gray, the air is damp and cold, and the beauty and busyness of summer and early fall has ended. Winter is coming and I hate it. I’ve never enjoyed winter, but since Mark died, I really hate it.
Winter is grief’s mascot. It’s cold, lonely, lifeless and barren. It’s the time where we are forced to wait. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being forced to do anything (Not the boss of me!) and I stink at waiting. This is often my downfall.
Everything looks and feels dead during the winter. I know new life will come; yet there’s no sign of it. The depression and anxiety that have been kept at bay the rest of the year come to a rolling boil. It has more muscle in the winter, clamoring for control of me. That makes me mad. I don’t want to feel an absence of joy, and yet finding it and living it out is so difficult for me this time of year.
It always catches me off guard how quickly the weather turns from warm and comforting, busy and distracting, to cold and dark, isolating and empty. It’s a quiet that overcomes me, forcing me to feel things I’ve pushed aside. It demands attention I don’t want to give it.
The stillness of winter reminds me of what’s ahead. Thanksgiving, Christmas and another New Year without my husband. It means the calendar will mark another birthday and wedding anniversary. I survived all of these things the first year, but I don’t feel any more equipped to deal with all of it this second time around. Winter is so hard.
I keep looking for remedies. I seek knowledge and ask questions. I spend so much time searching for answers in God’s word, but I often end up frustrated. It seems the more I study the Bible, the more questions I have. It doesn’t mean I doubt God, but I sure can wrestle with Him. I want answers I’m not sure this life can give. I want to understand death, life, new life, heaven, my purpose…you know, just the simple stuff.
Sometimes I feel like I’m just waiting for this life to be over. Just doing my time here. This isn’t a suicidal statement; let me be clear about that. I love life, but if this isn’t where it ends, if this isn’t what it’s all about, I wish I had a fast forward button. I wish there was a way to skip to the good part –the Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven part. The forever and ever AMEN part!
And yet, even though I haven’t found it yet, I know there is purpose here. I may rarely understand it, but I trust in it. I trust God. Sometimes (often times) I follow Him while pouting with heels dragging, but instinctually and historically I know to trust Him through every season, especially winter.
I’m eager for the day I’m off of this theological see-saw of nothing matters…no wait, everything matters! It’s exhausting and confusing. I’m grateful that although I can’t seem to figure out the answers, I still know there is more than this season. I know there’s a point to this life even though we are born with a desire for more than what this life has for us. It’s IN us. A desire for eternity is tightly woven into our DNA. Our God designed us to yearn for more than this. If God is capable of all that, then I need to trust Him with the confusing details of my right now. I need to trust Him through the void of winter.
We grievers know the “birth pangs” described in Romans 8. We know the pain of waiting for full deliverance from this “condition.” And yet, we also aren’t wired to stay down in the dumps. We long for joy, purpose and hope in the right here and now! And so sometimes we wrestle with God because we don’t see – we can’t see the whole picture. In our human condition, we have our noses pressed so closely up against one small dot of color and that’s literally all we can see. We don’t have the ability to see God’s pointillism. But someday, in heaven, we’ll have a broader view and be able to see the entire painting. We’ll see how the small dot we once stared at while searching for meaning and struggling through wintry grief is actually part of God’s expansive, infinite and colorful masterpiece. And then we’ll understand. Then we’ll know.
In the meantime, I have to continue believing God knows what He’s doing. God is with us. And God is loving and good and in control. Period.
That doesn’t mean we don’t/can’t/shouldn’t grieve. Grief is a human response to our hurting hearts, not a measurement of our faith. It’s also proof of how this life gets wintry sometimes. There will be seasons when it feels lonely, confusing, cold and lifeless, but God knows what He’s doing. He has orchestrated a plan so beautiful and good that we can’t possibly understand it while we’re stuck in the middle of it.
I want to continue trying to know God more. To do that, I need to put my trust in Him, because I know I need Him. Although when I seek answers, it often turns up more questions, I’m drawing closer to Him in the process, and it turns out that’s the best way to ride out another brutal winter.
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