As a visual person I relate the seasons of life to the literal seasons that happen around us. Imagine a tree going through each of the seasons. This can offer insight to the season of life: Spring, a time of abundance and new life; summer, a season of joy and great growth; fall, a period of preparation and beauty; and winter, a season of short sunlight hours and endurance.

Some of us are in spring, with new life and abundance surrounding us, branches are bursting with buds. The sunlight thaws the frozen branches awakening the tree to a new season. Spring requires tending, watering, and nurturing to cause the growth to turn into something more. It’s also a season of pruning. We cut back the things that impede growth to allow for new sprouts to flourish.

As summer arrives a tree opens its leaves to the nourishment of the sun, propagating photosynthesis and feeding the hungry branches. It is reaching out for more sun, and spreading deeper roots, soaking up all that it can from the abundance of summer’s long days and cool rains. A season of basking, relaxing, and some putzing. Working when we want or forcing ourselves into a schedule in order to accomplish something because we are in that lax period where things just seem to be running themselves. Doesn’t summer always seem so short-lived? Even in the seasons of life, this spot seems as fleeting as a warm July day. 

There are those of us that are in fall. The leaves and branches we have seen grow and flourish are now changing color. There is drama, intrigue, and signs of things to come. This is a season of putting away. It is a season of raking, battening, and trimming. The trees brace themselves for what is to come, shedding the ornaments, waiting for the icy winds and short days. 

And then winter. There is little sign of life. What was once a tree of prosperity and opportunity is replaced with stark branches, frigid, fragile, and unmoving. I read that trees require these dormant seasons. If we try to protect trees from their season of dormancy, the lifespan of a tree is dramatically decreased because it won’t know how to endure the next winter. The short days and long nights don’t allow for much outward growth, things are dormant, but there is still life at the core of a tree. 

Winter is the time to look inward

We use words like barren, cold, long, ugly, and frozen to describe winter. Winters can take their toll on our mental and physical health. We don’t need to fight winter, yelling at it won’t change the season, telling it to grow won’t cause it grow. But we can endure. We can cultivate patience. We can protect our heart in the season of winter. 

In winter we must acknowledge that though the outside may seem dead, there is life inside.

We can look at the state of our heart and do an inventory. We cannot let the ice and cold infiltrate our heart. A winter season can make us feel alone and isolated. We may feel like we are the only one going through a difficult season, that is not the truth. There are others in winter. We can invite people into our isolation. There are people that are struggling and hurting that need to see that they are not alone. By inviting others into our season of winter, we bring light to our darkness and theirs.

Winter is a reminder to search for the purpose. Our resiliency in winter comes from gaining a sense of purpose in the frustration. We can learn from these winter seasons. We can learn to better prepare for the next season of winter. Just because we have endured one winter doesn’t mean that winter will be over in our lives, that is not how seasons work. 

Write down the things that God is showing you in this season of stillness. Seek to understand the different beauty that a winter-like season can offer your life. Guard your heart, don’t let it become frozen in the winter. Carefully protect it, remind your heart that there were seasons before this and there are seasons that will come after. Winters cannot be avoided. They also don’t need to be terribly dark and endless, invite others in, share your season with another person. Talk to others who are in winter, gain hope from those around you that have endured a particularly harsh winter and are thriving in their spring. Don’t compare your winter to someone else’s summer, they are different seasons.

Talk to those who are in autumn and heading for winter, give them the wisdom that you have gained from your season. 

An important reminder, no matter the season you are in, is that God loves you. God loves you in every season of life. Whether you are basking in a spring-like season, experiencing a joyful summer like season, in a season of preparation like fall, or enduring the darkness of a particularly hard winter, God loves you. And after every winter, there will be a spring. 

He promises it, in Isaiah 55:10-11:

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there, but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” 

We need winters in our lives and in our walks of faith. Winter reminds us to be still and know that God is in control. It reminds us to tend to the important things and be careful not to strive in a season that we are being called to rest.