“She has no fear of winter because she is well prepared.” Proverbs 31:21, paraphrase
We all know winter is the chilliest season of all. Plants bloom less, go dormant under snow insulation, or die off. Animals store food, hibernate, or grow a thicker undercoat. We too stock up on necessities, food, and warm clothing. Birds and butterflies migrate to warmer climates along with millions of us who are desperate to get away from the nippy weather. Some of us would rather stay inside. We hope not to, but sometimes we battle icky colds and other viruses. There’s also the hustle and bustle of holiday festivities and then the quick turnaround of getting back to normal life afterward. When it comes to winter, we either like it or we don’t.
Growing up in north Texas where winter brings stinging sleet, freezing rain, and black ice, I’ve never been a big fan of the season. Rarely, do we get “real” winters like the northern and eastern states – the dreamy, white snow to go with our Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Here in Texas almost everything shuts down when an inkling of inclement weather is forecasted. And for those who dare to drive on the ice, Lord, help us! We’re not used the winter road conditions which is why some of us drive like “normal”, making the roads dangerous and sometimes deadly.
One of my unforgettable childhood winter memories is the time my sister and I went to school on an icy day. Considering the treacherous roads, I have no earthly idea why the schools were open and buses were running. When I asked my sister about it recently, she told me, if the schools were open, Moma probably said we had to go because she didn’t believe in missing school or work. I didn’t like to miss school either, and I wouldn’t doubt if I begged to go, but looking back, we really should have stayed at home.
Moma left for work which meant Daddy would have to drop us off. And I can see his face now – he was not happy! Although Daddy prides himself on his driving skills, he despises driving in bad weather. Be that as it may, we bundled up and headed out to brave the bitter cold in Daddy’s vintage 2-door royal blue Ford Maverick with silver racing stripes. He had to drive at a crawl pace on the slick road, and it seemed as if we were moving in slow motion. After about a mile, we finally reached my sister’s drop off where her school bus was waiting to transport her and her classmates to their high school.
With just two miles to go before we made it to my elementary school, Daddy drove around the block to get back to the intersection. As he turned onto the main street, out of no where, a car whacked us on Daddy’s side! Our car started to spin like we were on a faulty amusement park ride or an ice skating rink. We were going so fast and everything outside the car was a blur. I was sitting in the back seat behind Daddy, dizzily watching him through the rear view mirror as he tried to gain control of the car. We kept spinning and spinning. I could see the panic and fear in Daddy’s eyes. He couldn’t get a handle of the car. We were jerking around so much my face hit the left side passenger window. Then, after countless revolutions, the car began to slow down. Daddy got a hold of the steering wheel and managed to get the car going in the right direction. He asked me if I were okay and if I still wanted to go to school, and I said yes. My face was a little sore, but I had no visible signs of injury and neither did Daddy. If I was cool, he was cool. And that was it. I remember telling my friends about it at school, but I don’t remember talking about it with Daddy again or telling my mother and sister when we got home.
Although we didn’t talk about it, the memory was etched in my mind. I was in the fifth grade when the wreck occurred, and we moved away from that neighborhood about three years later. However, any time I pass through that area of town and go through the intersection again, I relive the traumatic event. Not long ago, I asked Daddy about that chilling day, and he couldn’t recount the details. He said the incident was just one of many wrecks he’d lived through, and to him, none of it matters now. And you know what, Daddy has a point.
I have spent most of my life fretting winter. When I stopped to think about why I felt this way, I realized it started with the accident. The Lord had delivered us from it, but I, unlike my dad, held on to a measure of fear that has, at times, resurfaced with different challenges during wintertime. Recurring financial strains due to slow or no contract work. A leaking sink valve caused a massive flood in our house that took almost two years to get it back in order. A family member was admitted to the hospital right before I was scheduled for a business trip. Winter had become mostly a season of adversity and hardship. Each time winter rolled around, I thought, “What will it be this time? How will we make through? What are You trying to teach me Lord?”
A couple of winters ago, I searched for scriptures about winter and came upon Proverbs 31:21. I’d read the verse many times before in the context of the surrounding verses. Since at the time I was searching for winter, the verse stood out to me in a new way because I saw some of the translations used fear in the same verse. I knew God was speaking to me! The scripture refers to a wife who has no fear of winter for her family because she had made sure they had the clothing they needed to be kept from the snow. In essence, she had planned ahead.
“She has no fear of winter for her household, for she has made warm clothes for all of them.”Proverbs 31:21, TLB
God showed me that while we can’t predict what life will bring our way, we can always prepare. We know we need practical things to get through winter, but looking to God prepares and keeps our mind. I understand wintertime might bring up painful feelings for you too. The loss of a loved one. Broken family ties. Having no one to spend the holidays with. Financial burdens. A tragic situation. At some point, we will face unpleasant circumstances. But we have to be careful not to let the fear and dread of dark times avalanche our minds and lives. We can become isolated, depressed, and numb when we are knee-deep in crisis. The key to surviving trying times is about us trusting in God’s peace, provision, and deliverance.
Instead of getting stuck inside fearful thoughts or bad memories, I am learning to celebrate and enjoy winter. I am learning to rejoice even when times are tough and keep believing God will see me through, as He has so faithfully done every winter. I am learning to lay my complaints at His feet in prayer, knowing there is always someone else going through a similar or worse situation. I am learning to observe how God uses winter, a season where most living things are at rest, to keep me growing and blooming even in my most difficult days.
Take in all that winter has to offer! Reflect on the year before, and then pray and plan for the year to come. Make memorable moments with family as well as old and new friends. Kick back and relax. Allow God to cover you with His loving embrace and help you stay prepared no matter what the season brings!
“…we have to be careful not to let the fear and dread of dark times avalanche our minds and lives.”