Digging Deep: Planning for Winter

Unlike my extra-extroverted husband, I am not someone who thrives in loud, busy spaces.

I enjoy time to think. Quiet. The sounds of nature (if an ocean is involved in that sound, even better!). I don’t need to be surrounded by a bunch of friends – though I keep a small, tight group especially close and am grateful for them every single minute of every day.

If you were to look up the definition of “introverted” my name wouldn’t be there, let’s get serious ;), but, the sentiment wouldn’t be far off. Give me a cozy corner somewhere, a few good books, some coffee, some time with Jesus and I’ll recharge, FAST.

Having laid that all out there, my next statement surprises even me. During this quarantine, even me – an introvert by the book – has begun to miss human interaction like never before (which, to be honest, makes me feel for you extroverts out there like I never have before!).

At the beginning of the world shutting down, my first thought was “this is great” (NOT the deaths, not the pandemic – but, the chance to be quiet and just focus on the basics for awhile). Even during the summer months, I enjoyed our outdoor meetings with neighbors. I loved – and still love – morning walks with the husband. I felt recharged and, to be honest, could not relate to those who felt otherwise.

Well. I’m there. And looking ahead to a cold, frigid winter intimidates me.

YES – I know much of the world is going back to “normal” – a mask-covered sort of normal. But, that’s not us.

We have family with weakened immune systems and serious health complications, along with other extenuating circumstances. For us, continued caution is the game plan until a vaccine or viable, reliable treatment is available.

Which brings us back to winter. While we’ve taken a few practical steps – like buying a patio heating system to hopefully keep outdoor gatherings possible. It looks like introspection on a whole new level is on deck.

Could that be a positive thing?

Listen – we are hardwired for connection. This is true for all of us, especially believers. We aren’t meant to live in bubbles (though sometimes – many times – that idea sounds pretty good to me. There’s a reason I write words more than I speak them!). There’s no substitute for time spent in conversations with others. We’re called to connect, we’re called to point others to Jesus, and we’re called to live sacrificially which may look slightly different to each of us.

But, this year might look different. Thanksgiving might not be a full house of people. Christmas might not mean traveling to see extended family, parties and get togethers around warm fires with hot chocolate.

It feels strange to wrap up a year without some of the traditions we hold so dear, and to face what’s ahead more secluded than in the past.

But.. just maybe… this is exactly what we could use as a spring board to point us to the one who has ordained each of our days – and holiday traditions you might argue – in the first place. The one who has built our families and our circles, designing each of us to reflect him to those around us.

Maybe we need to go back to the source this year like we never have before.

To me, as I think ahead to what’s in store, I’ve been asking God to work on my heart, my motivations, my thoughts, and every part of my being. I’ve been asking him to point out the things I’ve built up to be more than him in my heart (and this, friends, is sometimes a painful process, especially as barriers I’ve put in place begin to fall).

I’ve been asking him to replace the loneliness I anticipate with his overwhelming love, asking him to draw near to me as he promises in his word he will do as I seek him.

Y’all. The promises are there for all of us:

Peace. Not a “no matter who’s president we have some sort of shallow peace that should make everyone feel better about everything” sort of peace that we are so quick to share. But a peace that means we’re here for God’s purposes, his glory and his ultimate plan, whether we see that come to fruition on this side of heaven or after.

Hope: hope that was established at the beginning of the world, looking forward to the arrival of the very Savior of our hearts, and that we now have for his future return. Hope that whatever we’re facing today has already been overcome.

Joy. Joy that even the best fellowship with our closest family doing our favorite holiday traditions cannot top. Joy that comes directly from the source of every good and perfect thing in this world and surpasses every single situation – both good and bad – that we have ever and will ever face.

And so much more. Winter may be cold. It may loom really large in our hearts today – I know it does in mine… some days worse than others. But team – we have hope. Big, life changing hope. We can cling to it and we can share it with those around us.

Maybe that’s what we’re called to this year. Can we embrace it?

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