As I sit in my nephew's bedroom, looking out the window at barren trees and brown land and 25 degree weather, I don’t find it ironic that winter is here. The significance of the winter season as we cross over into another year reminds me that the date changing from December 31 to January 1 is far less significant than a season ending and a new one beginning.
The fourth and coldest season.
A period of inactivity.
The latin word for winter is hiems.
Hibernus, the masculine form of the word.
Hibernate. While humans don’t exactly hibernate, I would argue there is a beautiful analogy here which is that the winter season is a season of our own form of restoration. Of repair. Of patience. It’s a time of solitude, a season to dream, offering space to reflect and prepare for the spring. It isn't an abrupt 24-hour period. It's slow and it takes time.
But, I want to rush it, I want to superficially cling to this idea that January 1, 2021 is going to wipe away all my pain and tears and give me full restoration and healing. I desperately want to. But grief and pain don’t work that way. They are a process that only you get to know when you’re through it, not a 24-hour period between December 31 and January 1.
While my enneagram 8, wing 7 personality wants to be the person who is hyper energetic and optimistic about 2021, I’ve done enough years of therapy (ahem, almost 15) to know myself well enough and to be honest about the reality of pain and rebuilding. And the reality that joy and peace CAN, in fact, live side-by-side with pain and grief.
It takes time. Sometimes weeks. Sometimes months. Sometimes years.
It's a season. Not a session.
I’m thankful for the healing I’ve already had over the last 4 months. God has done miracles that have increased my faith more than I ever knew possible. My heart already feels less shattered and I can sense God holding it and rebuilding it with each day.
But, January 1 won’t make my heart whole again.
Neither will distractions.
Or applause from social media.
Or accolades from friends.
Or rushing into a new relationship.
Or rushing the healing process.
The very process of beginning again often comes with the first chapter – or perhaps the first few chapters – being the feeling, acknowledging, understanding and reckoning with the pain. The winter chapters. Accepting it and work towards freedom from it. Thankfully, God has done so much of that work in me already. But, there is still work to be done. And it’s up to me. In the winter season. With God. To piece my heart back together.
The good news?
Winter doesn’t last forever. Neither does pain. And our hearts are able to be healed and restored.
Spring comes and the beauty of new life arises. The brown, barren land labors the birth of color, of miracles, of growth and of unexpected beauty.
Winter eventually brings a harvest.
But we must be patient. We must be kind to ourselves. We must do the work, rest, reflect and trust that God will do what only He can. He is, after all, the author of the seasons and the creator of every single purpose and beauty and good that comes from each season.
Alas, maybe winter is not a season of inactivity. Maybe it’s a season of the most beautiful, intimate, hard, patient activity we can do with ourselves. Maybe the hibernation can go from rest to restoration, not by way of lying dormant. But by way of healthy, slow, loving activity with ourselves. With God.
If you are in a season of pain – because of your own actions or someone else’s or a loss or fear or failure or a broken relationship or a prodigal child or a boss who mistreated you or abuse from someone you trusted or a business that went under or wounds that were never fully healed – I’m sorry.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry for it all.
But don’t cling to January 1 as your healer. God is the healer. Time and patience and rest and reflection and intimate, loving friendships and prayer and therapy and more time and more patience…those are good, healthy healers. It’s okay that January 1 won’t be the hero and won’t be celebrated as you wanted. It is, after all, just one day in a year that has 364 others. I know you will celebrate on another day and that day will have far more meaning and significance than January 1. Perhaps in the Spring. Maybe in the Fall. Gosh, it's going to be beautiful.
I will leave you all with some lyrics to one of my favorite songs, appropriately titled Seasons by Hillsong Worship. Give this song a listen - I have a feeling it will encourage you immensely.
I can see the promise I can see the future You're the God of seasons And 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
For me - and perhaps for you - God's not done working. And if he’s not done working, I’m not done waiting. Like a seed in the snow, I’ve been buried to grow. I have full trust that my harvest will be plentiful. That my season will come. And I believe the same for you.
Much love to you in all 365 days of 2021.