This winter I am living in the snow belt of Northeast Ohio, experiencing way colder temperatures than I have in the last 16 years in Los Angeles. The winter here brings grey skies, crisp wind, and beautiful, peaceful snow. Since December 1, we have had 2 massive snow storms that have brought a foot or more of the powdery white stuff each time and a handful of other snow flurries, that dusted the ground in a few inches. The snow has fallen fast and hard, only to be plowed into piles on the side of the road that turn black with the grim and exhaust from cars zooming past. The snow has also melted, to reveal the wet grass and mud below, still intact and excited to come back in the Spring.
Over the past 3 days, the snow has fallen at a slower pace, covering the ground in a white blanket of softness, that reveals tracks of the deer prancing through the backyard and allows the neighborhood dogs a chance to frolic and play.
What speaks to me most is the way that the snow covers the ground so evenly, making any blemish seem clean and perfect, and then drifts into soft edges of tiny hills and valleys.
It makes me think of how we, as imperfect people, try to cover ourselves in a layer of happiness, masking whatever is going on underneath the surface in a smile and a “I’m doing well” response. Growing up in the way I did, I was always told to “put on a happy face” and to “just smile.” And wow, I did that for the majority of my life. Through my life, I’ve always strived and been driven to make the most of every situation. Get straight A’s. Win the awards. Do my absolute best in everything I do. These things in and of themselves are good. Sure, everyone was to do well in life, to succeed in whatever field they are in.
This past year has been tough, not just for me, but for everyone, everywhere. We have endured a lot and as easy as it is to say, “oh, I’m doing good,” it is more truthful to say, “I’m not OK.” For me, this past week or so has been rough, and it has been hard to put on my happy face. I’ve been thinking a lot about everything and feeling really sad and lonely, despite the love and encouragement I feel from those closest to me.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I tend to strive from my own strength. The Bible teaches us to “lean not on your own understanding” and “to commit your ways to the Lord” for “He will make straight your path.” (Paraphrasing from Proverbs 3:5-6)
So, why do I think that I can do everything? Is it a pride thing? Perhaps I feel more accomplished when I can say “I DID THAT!” The Truth is whatever I do, I do because God placed it on my heart and He gives me breath and energy and all the things to do it. He gives me the plan and directs my steps. I know this in my head, but sometimes I forget it in my heart and in my physical being. In tough seasons, I tend to rely more on myself than on God, and I strive for the things I know I can accomplish.
I am tired of striving. I am tired of doing things to prove that I can, despite the circumstances of my past. I am just tired.
So, in the middle of this cold, wintery season, where the snow blankets the ground and covers it so beautifully, I am throwing off my blanket and revealing my rough, raw self underneath. I am stepping into the direction God is leading me, no matter how scary or unknown it may be. I am giving my burdens to Jesus, so that He may carry them and that I may feel light. When I do this, I feel the grey cloud around me lifting to reveal the glisten of the sunshine of my soul. I am deepening my faith and pressing in to the Holy Spirit. I am releasing my worries and living in the present, leaping into the unknown.
This is how I am choosing to live today.