Have you lost yourself? Like you’ve forgotten who you are, who God created you to be? I certainly have before—first in college, then again during a very dark pregnancy with our first child. I hope you’ll find some simple words of encouragement for hard times and dark, cloudy days.
I first came across Albert Camus’ writings in one of my college literature classes. This particular quote spoke to those cavernous places in my soul and has influenced my life ever since: “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” At that time, I was drowning. I had quite literally lost myself. I had forgotten the confidence and bravado of my childhood, I temporarily neglected my parents’ nurturing and biblical upbringing, and I denied the grace I had found in Jesus as a child and then again as a young adult.
It was winter in my heart. My dreams were icicles, dangling above, threatening to drop. I was sad and angry, struggling with the sting of rejection. I pretended to be strong but I was brittle inside. I devoured Beth Moore’s Breaking Free Bible study and spent hours memorizing and praying through Scripture. I went to counseling and learned how to distinguish truth from a lie. Most pleasant afternoons in college, you’d find me running or lying on my back in a field behind the dorms, singing or crying out to God. He thawed me. He opened my eyes to others who were hurting much more deeply than I was and reminded me who He created me to be. Summer was returning. I even fell in love with the man I would marry. Several years later, joy filled our lives as we learned we were going to have a baby!
After some scary complications with the pregnancy, we went in for the gender reveal appointment. The ultrasound technician became awkward and escorted us to another room where we learned our son’s (it’s a boy!) skull was measuring too large. Specialists told us our son had spina bifida and likely would never walk, among countless other setbacks and disabilities. Joey and I were devastated. We cried ourselves to sleep most nights. I was angry at God and resentful of all my friends (and strangers) with healthy children; I had forgotten who I was again.
We’ve all endured (or are enduring) those seemingly endless winters; the ones that leave a little frostbite on our hearts. You’ve experienced loss of a loved one—way too early. Rejection. Divorce when you were counting on forever. Multiple miscarriages. Infertility. You’ve felt the sting of abuse or neglect.
This pain can freeze us up, cause us to lock ourselves away from the world, curl up with a blanket over our heads, and let the blizzard rage.
And that’s okay for a while, but at some point, summer will come. It’s relentless. Invincible.
Winter attempted to freeze me in the fear that I didn’t have what it took to raise a child with significant special needs. But summer came when I looked into my son, Finn’s, eyes and saw God’s love and faithfulness. Finn works so hard to use his arms and push up a ramp or compete in wheelchair races. He is confident in his differences and teaches me to enjoy the strength in my own body every day, and not to take it for granted. The love of the nurses, doctors, therapists, teachers, friends, and extended family who care for our son are rays of the summer sun, bringing warmth to our lives.
In your own life, allow buds to grow, flowers to bloom, and eventually you’ve got to pluck those petals and share them with others who are still in the shadows of winter.
Here are some practical tips to help you walk through those dark days:
- Read the Bible. Fall asleep with your face in Scripture and wake up early for more. (Psalm 46:1-3).
- Go to counseling. There is no shame in this. (Proverbs 19:20).
- Do things you love—the things God created you to do. Our spiritual enemy wants us to stop doing things that bring us joy. (Jeremiah 31:13).
- Go encourage someone else who is hurting. Volunteer your time. Get involved at your church and serve your community with the gifts God gave you. This will give you a dose of perspective. (1 Peter 5:7, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
If you’re shivering in your own dark winter, there’s hope. No season lasts forever. Summer is coming.