Navigating through Life’s Later Winter Season

Winter lasts a long time in North Idaho where I live–especially this year! We’ve had snow on the ground for a record number of days. That translates into two things: 1) We’ve had a lot of snow that came early and kept falling and falling. 2) Our weather has been cold enough to keep snow on the ground. The towns just north of us have massive piles of snow collected from city streets and parking lots from the record snow fall this winter. You could almost ski down them! There has been a lot of complaining on Facebook as of late, by those who keep waking up to snow on their cars. I get it. I really do. Even though most of us like the winter, we do get sick and tired of it. The cold. The ice. The grey. Blah!

The four seasons are a good metaphor for life. We have those amazing spring-like times when everything seems hopeful that then turns into summer-time life experiences where life continues down a path of blessing. Soon enough fall arrives. Fall is a season where we get to harvest the fruits of our labor and begin preparations for the arrival of winter. The days get shorter along with dropping temperatures and too soon we see bare trees bowing to winter’s first gales. Early winter is an adventure. We adjust to the cold. But late winter is where we are put to the test. I’m still speaking figuratively here. Late winter might be those days when you’re chemo doesn’t seem to be working, or your marriage is still permeated with coolness. God sometimes seems aloof. How do you get through these days?

7 Ways to Navigate Late Winter

  1. Choose to be thankful. List 50 things that you are thankful for in the next 30 days. I’m serious. It might be as simple as a new toothbrush, or seeing the first robin of spring.
  2. Change the way you pray. Kneel down beside the bed first thing every morning and give God your first thoughts. Take a walk and pray for every person you meet. Say the Lord’s Prayer every evening.
  3. Give up to get. OK, I’m going to meddle here. This is the Lenten season where millions of Christians around the world give up something for Christ until Easter. So maybe it is time to stop watching the “negative news shows”, or take a break from Facebook, where it seems like everyone is on the beach in Mexico! Put down the phone and look others in the eye and smile!
  4. Surround yourself with good people. The Apostle Paul, during a tough season of ministry wrote, “Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey…” (1 Cor. 16:6). If he needed people to help him through winter, so do we. My wife and I have found great encouragement in a new small group that we joined about a year ago. Jesus ministers to us “wherever two or three are gathered…” (Matt. 18:20).
  5. Listen to good music. Go to a church where there is life-giving worship. Download good music and listen to it throughout the day. Your brain responds to good music by releasing endorphins that improve your mood.
  6. Get outside—especially if you live in the northern parts of the US. Sunlight is good for the soul, and helps boost your mood. This could be as simple as parking far enough away that you allows you to walk for a few extra feet to get to the store.
  7. Remember, you’re never alone. Jesus promises to be with us in the Great Commission to the end of the world (Matt 28:18-20). Believe it.

If you begin to practice some of these steps, then I promise, you’ll get through the late winter season of your life. You’ll have a fresh encounter with Christ.

After all, Jesus is walking with us through our crazy lives!

Dr. Tony

Jonathan Schuler