Many people have an incredibly hard time during the winter months, particularly if they live in colder regions. The short, dark days can trigger melancholic moods, leading to profound feelings of lethargy and pessimism. Others may struggle with financial worries which quickly set in after the expense of the holidays. Meanwhile, we all face pervasive trials that threaten to undermine happiness at any time of year. Whether you are grieving the loss of a loved one, adjusting to the end of a significant relationship, struggling with ill health or physical challenges, or facing high levels of stress at work, it is tough to see the brighter side of life. Feeling as though it will never end, the persistence we need to keep moving forward leaves us challenged and exhausted.
This often reminds me about the birth of our daughter. It was a terrific yet enormously challenging time. I felt the first twinges of labor on a Sunday evening and knew it was coming. After all, we prepared for this for nine months. With all the energy and strength needed to face this challenge, I was ready! But as the labor continued, my strength began to diminish, my positive outlook waned, and my own ability to stay present in the midst of what seemed an eternity left me tired, angry, and confused. Why was this taking so long? When will it end? With the continued waves of pain searing through my body, I found myself struggling to maintain focus and even an increased desire to do anything to just make it stop! I needed my husband, doctors, nurses, and other loved ones beside me to keep me focused on the goal. “I must keep going.” After an incredible 46 hours, I pushed through (I should add that I refused medication). In the end there was a beautiful new life, an amazingly precious gift created out of all that suffering. The plethora of emotions left me spinning. Though I was often not a willing participant in the process, the pain was worth it. I became a new person and was changed forever.
Spring is a time of change. Easter, of course, is closely tied to the idea of resurrection, and the entire season of spring is widely seen as representing the beauty of renewal, regrowth and rebirth. Everywhere, we see inspiring signs of rejuvenation; the trees grow thick with blossoms, days become longer and brighter, and meadows fill up with energetic young animals playing with enviable abandon. Hibernation is at an end as we are confronted with the irrefutable evidence of our own ability toward resilience and strength. On a practical level, spring also brings a welcomed freedom. We can once again enjoy outdoor activities like walking and hiking, and we literally shrug off the heavy, dense clothing we no longer need to protect us from the cold, harsh winter.
While enduring your own “labor pains” of life, it will seem as though the bitter cold will never end but spring always breaks through. By embracing the hope and truth that new life is about to be born, you will find the strength and courage not to give up. This simple act of shifting your perspective can make an enormous difference in your ability to forge ahead. If you find you are struggling to see the end of a particular battle, focus on the lessons of spring and be sure to surround yourself with family, friends, a pastor, or even a counselor. The reality is we are not meant to struggle alone, a support system is invaluable. Once you reach the other side of that battle, you will realize that this new life, this rebirth is you, for you have become a new creation.
If you have found a way to keep yourself positive when challenged, please leave a comment below. I would love to hear your own strategies!