Right about the third week of January, the stark white and deep cold of winter can start to feel… endlessly and grey. And somehow, the frozenness of winter seems to spread its icy fingers and turn other things cold too. Facebook feeds can scroll on and on with misery and complaining, the bills from December’s extravagance frown at us from their pile in the corner, and the deck and garden that usually bring so much joy and relaxation are held helplessly hostage until April.
But here’s the thing. While there is ample opportunity for discouragement, there’s also an abundance of things to celebrate.
Encouragement in the Endless Winter
I was reading in Ecclesiastes recently – I know, cheery reading, right? – but what I discovered there wasn’t the dreary woe-is-me moaning I’ve sometimes expected. Instead, I found encouragement.
First, there was comfort in the realization that the occasional feeling of futility isn’t new. It’s normal. Maybe even proof that we’re human, I don’t know. But that’s good news on the days when discouragement creeps in, isn’t it?
Better than that, I was reminded of joy. This verse in particular stood out to me:
“Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine
with a joyful heart,
for it is now that God favors what you do.” Ecc. 9:7
God favors what you do. Go… with a joyful heart. These words strummed a soothing tune. Whatever was going on in and around me, there was much to enjoy. To be thankful for. Yes. The words affirmed what I already knew: gratitude makes the heart joyful, even in the most endless grey.
I don’t have to look far to find joy.
One recent example is the young couple I met with. They’d bought a house with me a few years ago – their first. Now, the young married couple had grown into a young family and needed more room, so they called me to sell and buy something else.
I can hardly explain to you the JOY of such a thing – to walk the path with a family and watch them grow. To know they made a happy home in the place they bought, made memories, and are growing into a new place. And it was a huge joy too, to be the bringer of such good news as “your home increased in value by $100K in the last five years!” It’s deeply rewarding and thoroughly wonderful to have a part in all of that.
There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than this wonderful work.
Here’s the point.
If you’re feeling discouraged, disheartened, or like this wintery season of your life will never end, there are three things I hope you walk away with today.
First, you’re normal. It’s okay. Seemingly endless grey
seasons are not proof that you’re failing or have taken a wrong turn
somewhere. They’re proof you’re human.
Secondly, in the snowstorm of adversity, the best thing you can do is hunker down and let gratitude warm you up while you wait for the season to change.
And finally, discouragement doesn’t have to keep you down. It’s just a season. It will pass. Especially if you’re proactive about sheltering yourself with gratitude in the storm. How do you find shelter in the storm?