Like the frost on a rose
Winter comes for us all
Oh how nature acquaints us
With the nature of patience
Like a seed in the snow
I’ve been buried to grow
For Your promise is loyal
From seed to sequoia
Though the winter is long even richer
The harvest it brings
Though my waiting prolongs even greater
Your promise for me like a seed
I believe that my season will come
Lord I think of Your love
Like the low winter sun
As I gaze I am blinded
In the light of Your brightness
Like a fire to the snow
I’m renewed in Your warmth
Melt the ice of this wild soul
Till the barren is beautiful
I can see the promise
I can see the future
You’re the God of seasons
I’m just in the winter
If all I know of harvest
Is that it’s worth my patience
Then if You’re not done working
God I’m not done waiting
You can see my promise
Even in the winter
Cause You’re the God of greatness
Even in a manger
For all I know of seasons
Is that You take Your time
You could have saved us in a second
Instead You sent a child
[Seasons by Hillsong]
It is a lovely feeling to have seen the completion of the first– although very small– piece of a new season of life. Having completed my first semester of college thus delving slightly into this unexplored chapter, God has revealed so much more than I could have ever asked or imagined. I am truly blessed and thankful beyond anything else. He is calling me deeper than I ever would have planned to go myself. He is stretching me in ways that bring great discomfort, while uncertainty is constantly looming. Yet, I know He has way more in store for me than I see even with hindsight. There is no doubt in my mind that the best is yet to come.
I have always struggled, however, come winter. It’s the season when things end, nature dies, the air goes dry, the temperature plunges, the days are pruned, the sun’s job to shine becomes a part-time one, and my mind and body tend to go a little numb. For one, I hate being cold. For me, in the cold months, it’s not only a chore, but a constant battle to stay warm.
There is an internal battle as well. No matter how magnificent the prior season of life is, I always seem to find myself back in the same dark corner of doubt, fear, and brokenness come winter. Summer means sweet warmth, a multitude of growth, tremendous light, and beauty surrounding. Winter seems to only bring about discomfort, death, darkness, and doubt. In addition to this, about four years ago, the weather changes began to spur on what appeared to be a consistent array of panic attacks. Come winter, my anxiety was suddenly shooting upward like never before and depression began its looming. The worst of this reality was the realization that these feelings were taking place in the midst of what was supposed to be a joy filled season. Christmas time is not the time for this, I thought to myself bluntly.
Although, it looks different every year, since then, every winter I am brought back to a place of brokenness I thought I’d left behind the year prior. It is to my confusion that I seem to find myself back in the same place every year. Even after 4 years, I still question why I feel the way I do when winter rolls around. I try to focus on the fact that there has been so much growth throughout the year up until this point. That was even my word for this year: growth. I wanted to be able to celebrate at the end of 2017 for all of the progress I had made in my life Spiritually and simply as a person. But even after I’ve seen tremendous growth, beauty, newness, and a seed of hope has been planted, a sharp pain comes out of nowhere, leaving me blindsided and feeling helpless. In my questioning and in my brokenness, however, I have found acceptance of the pain and that seed of hope remains rooted. This pain I am feeling is only temporary and it is for my own good.
The season of winter is like one giant pruning. Everything dies so that it can be made new. If you only look at the bare branches year after year, you will only see dead branches. Choose to look at the tree as a whole. Yes, it is bare. Yes, it looks dead. But it is oh so alive, and year after year it continues to grow. Each time, winter rolls around, the tree will have made significantly recognizable changes in its physical appearance, despite being left with bare branches. When the branches do become full again, they are often fresher, greener, more fragrant than the year before. The tree did not truly die. It remained planted and rooted in the frosted soil. And it waited– patiently waited– letting nature take its course, trusting that its greenery would soon be restored. Hope was never lost. In fact, hope is here. Hope is here now, and what better season to celebrate this hope than in a season that needs it most. I know I am not the only one who struggles come the winter months. Whether it’s the reminder of broken relationships past or present, another year without work, the first or 50th Christmas without a loved one, a joy that’s been overshadowed by doubt, or a feeling a failure caused by a shattered image of all the things that didn’t turn out the way you’d expected, winter has a way of stripping away life’s foliage and making you feel cold and bare. And maybe you are like me and you feel like it’s about time the despondence stops having a say in the way the season makes you feel. Even when you move past the initial heartache and you have accepted the pain, the next step might not always be completely apparent. So maybe you are like me and you know there is hope and you can see it coming but right now you’re not sure how to get to it quite yet. It’s as if you’re a trapeze artist having let go of the previous swing and you haven’t grabbed onto the next one yet. You are in the air, uncertain of what’s about to happen. But faith is knowing God will pull that swing out of nowhere just before you finish plummetting to the ground. You just got to trust.
The in-between can feel like you’re alone in the wilderness. But just as Moses waited a whopping 40 years in the wilderness, we are called to wait too. There is beauty in the Lord calling us to wait on Him. He calls us not only to wait patiently but to wait actively. This means relying solely on Him and waiting in expectation of what He’s about to do. And we can take heart in knowing, He remains faithful throughout this time. I think it only deepens my understanding of God’s consistently faithful character to realize that even after all this time, He has never left us. Not only that, but He was at work in our pain and in our waiting. He was and is at work making all things new. In the seasons of waiting, in the pain, in the brokenness, in the uncertainty, in the dry desert wilderness, He is with us. Emmanuel. What a Savior. To endure the feeble body of a baby, and go through bountiful pain and sorrow, just so He could be with us. If that’s not true love, I don’t know what is.
So come winter, there may be a plethora of emotions you feel. But whatever it is you are feeling– from pure joy to utter despair– it ultimately does not change the way God feels about us or the glorious truth we place our hope in.