This is me in the summer:
Looking at that picture, my heart feels light. I’m warm. The grass is green. The sun is shining. I love everything about it. Here’s another:
Summertime is my jam.
I lived in Southern California when I was a kid until 4th grade. Winter was not really a thing there. We had a season called winter, it basically meant we didn’t go swimming as often. I’m probably romanticizing that quite a bit in my head, but let me have my memories.
Then we moved to the Midwest. Winter was so cold. So bleak. So long.
For as long as I can remember, my moods and emotions and mental health have been closely tied up in the seasons. I wish very much that it wasn’t this way. Call it Seasonal Affective Disorder or whatever, but the fact is I have to work much harder to feel alive in the winter months.
Until this last year I didn’t realize that my thyroid has a lot to do with this. I’m cold all. the. time. At my in-law’s house for Christmas I was wrapped up in a blanket from the time we got there until we left (those Minnesotans, they love the cold so much they let it in their houses). Am I a wimp? Yes, I am. But I also have a tiny little gland in my throat that sits in a layer of ice from October to April (that might not be medically accurate, but the idea is).
When I wake up in the winter time, many days I start my day at a -3, whereas my husband is always at a 7 (I’m not sure what this scale is, but work with me here). If it’s cloudy outside, I might even be down to -5. The point I’m trying to make here is that before I’ve even gotten out of bed, I’m already feeling defeated. It’s a struggle to even get dressed, eat, brush teeth.
On top of this, I’m pregnant and it’s made me sick since the middle of November. So sick. Barely able to function a lot of days.
I know I’m not the only one. I’ve talked with some of you who have told me the same things. Living everyday life with depression is hard.
I was talking to Tim recently (my husband is so wise, you guys) and telling him I was tired of the struggle. “I’m so depressed in the winter, why is it this way?”
“Okay, so what?” He replied.
“Excuse me?” What does he mean, so what? I think the answer is pretty obvious. At some point we call it quits and move to Phoenix or Fiji where we’ll never have problems again.
“I mean, if your life is telling a story, you’re depressed, but… What are you going to do with it? Where does your story go from here?”
I stared at him, and realized that he was right.
Obviously I can’t just stop living in winter. I can’t only be emotionally present in my people’s lives for only half the year. I’m here on earth for the long haul, I have to do something with this.
Every spring I play a game with myself and the boys to try to find the first signs of growth. Green sprigs coming through the previously-frozen earth, first stems of fresh grass, tree buds. These signs to me cause hope to stir within my soul. The warmth will be back.
I think I still have a lot to learn from winter. In fact, without winter, would I appreciate summer as much? Would I feel the kind of longing hope that leads me to worship?
I think God has put inside all of us a desire for summer. It looks different for each of us. An end to the cold, an end to illness, a desire for peace. Hope for better circumstances.
This longing, this discontentment can either cause us to become bitter and lifeless, or bring us to our knees in desperation.
I can’t live in summer forever. The idea is appealing, but no.
I need winter. I hate to admit that. The cold and misery take me to a place of utter dependence.
Life is hard. But as Tim and I tell our boys, we do hard things.
So as I explore God’s grace this winter, and figure out where my story goes from here, I will acknowledge my own weakness and dependence. And wait again for the joy of summer, and even greater than that, the hope of completeness in Jesus. One day.
Will you do the same?