We talk about seasons. (Excuse the generalised collective ‘we’).
2 years ago, I experienced my first ever physical winter. Unusually for life, that time was simultaneously a mountain and a valley season for me. It taught me more about seasons than any sermon or story ever has. More about beauty and rest, too.
Of course, our lives experience winter seasons too. They are not always easy to recognise.
Characteristics of winter (seasons):
– Dark comes really early
– Everything moves really slowly
– Growth seems to have halted
– Everything (including you) is forced to rest
– It seems to go on forever
When you’re in a stage of life that’s a lot like winter, it is really hard to focus on the positive. It’s also easy to forget all you have learnt once spring has rolled around.
Here’s what I have learned, and continue to learn from winter:
1) There’s a lot of growth that’s happening.
You just don’t realise it till months, maybe years later. This is the time of just-before-explosive-growth. Be patient, keep doing what you are supposed to do, and you will reap in time.
2) In winter, magnificent rest and magnificent beauty are two sides of the same coin.
Oftentimes, a side of God, a side of life and a side of us are revealed that is never discovered except through winter. Just Google pictures of landscapes or cities with and without a blanket of snow and you’ll understand. Snow simultaneously covers and reveals. There are aspects of beauty that can only be accessed in winter seasons. We just have to change our perspective.
3) The slowing down signals that it’s time to rest. The early sunsets, frozen rivers, slow-moving cold, hibernating animals all mean rest. It is okay to rest. Even Nature herself does it too.
4) It is a time to reassess, revisit, relearn and rebuild.
Plants get stripped bare in winter. When things get hard, the parts of ourselves we usually strive to hide from everyone else gets surfaced, sometimes in beautiful, but sometimes in ugly, ways. Winter has a way of stripping masks, coping mechanisms and lies away. Only when we come face to face with ourselves can we be honest about what needs to change.
Difficult times also reveal strength and character that only reach their fullest potential when tested. We are worse, and better, than we think.
5) It’s only natural. There is a winter every year. But there’s also a spring every year. There is no anxiety in the sleeping trees. They understand the need for rest. They understand the blooming that comes after.
You are going to be okay.