Those who know me personally know that I'm not a fan of winter. I ache for the days of spring when I can feel the warmth of the sun on my shoulders. My mind is consumed with thoughts of being outside planting flowers and digging in the garden.
Being cold on the outside is hard, but what happens when we experience winter down deep in the recesses of our hearts? There are times that circumstances are so brutal that our souls can be thrust into a dark, bleak season of winter.
That is what we experienced the year our daughter Nicole passed away. It was just the beginning of winter, just three days after Christmas, but everything around me felt arctic and harsh. It wasn't that the temperature outside was that terribly cold; it was that I had stepped into the Winter of My Soul. I felt as though I would never be warm again - hopeless.
I write about it in Victorious Heart.
"Warmth seemed to elude me in those days, and I felt a constant chill. It seemed the bleak winter season outside had taken over my soul. I craved sunshine. I guess I thought if I could just sit and soak the sun into my body, it would warm and fill the spot where grief had come to reside."
I felt hopeless.
The Bible says that "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." (Proverbs 13:12)
My heart was sick. Darkness threatened to invade every pore of my being during that Soul Winter. Surviving seemed unsurmountable, much less surviving with hope. My soul felt barren.
Isn't that the way it feels during the deep freeze of winter - dead and lifeless? It's hard to imagine what is going on deep under the surface. In Thriving in the Winter Season of the Soul, Miriam Dixon writes:
"In winter the focus of a tree turns inward. Fruit falls away. Leaves drop. Yet while the tree appears barren and apparently lifeless on the outside, inside much is happening. In winter the trunk of the tree grows another ring, building its core strength to endure the force of spring storms, stave off blight, and bear the weight of fruit in summer. At the same time, the tree stretches deep, extending and expanding its roots to absorb nutrients and develop a firmer base."
My very existence felt fallow and desolate. But what I didn't know - what I couldn't perceive at the time was that God was tending to my deep wound. He was healing me in ways I could have never imagined. Spring was coming.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He was binding up my heart in ways that caused my roots to go deep, developing a firmer base. He was strengthening my soul and reminding me that there is more to life than what I see. My heart still ached because of the loss of our sweet girl, but I came to understand that heartache could co-exist with healing and hope.
Sweet friend, if you are in the middle of the Winter of Your Soul, don't lose heart. You won't be in this place forever. Even though you may not feel it or see it, there is life deep under the surface. I encourage you to give your broken heart to God. Day by day, moment by moment. He will be there. Even if you can't feel Him, keep giving Him your heart. Spring is coming.