Every year since I was a kid, I get restless around this time of the year. But in 2014, I’ve found myself much more restless than usual. This sub-zero, satanic, snowy winter is dragging on like it hasn’t in Minnesota since 1979 and it’s beating up my resolve with a metal baseball bat. Most days I do the same things–get up as late as possible, drag myself in and out of the shower, put on ten layers of mascara and heavy clothing, my biggest puffer coat, a couple of handbags and totes, pull mittens over my dry and burning hands and salt-stained boots over my feet, and hit the garage door button. I walk out to my car sitting on the driveway in generally -10 to 0-degree temperatures, with wind chills well below that, and start my car. Most mornings I don’t even let it warm up. Out of spite toward Winter for expecting me to drop everything and start my car 15 minutes before I want to leave (and the fact that I woke up as late as possible), I rev the engine to warm it up just a little and jet quickly out of the glare-ice-covered streets of my parents’ neighborhood. Eventually I have to pull over, jump out, and hack at the ice on my windshield that I tried to melt with blue juice, only creating a more complicated icy mess. My cheeks burn, my hairspray melts under the weight of snow flurries, my eyes water in the wind, and I curse Winter for the millionth time, this season.
I often stop at Starbucks on my way to work. I’m embarrassed because Cindy-the-drive-thru-lady recognizes me every time. She plays coy, but I know she’s been expecting me. I reload my Starbucks card for the third time this month, even though I budgeted for just one card load of $25. I rationalize it and move along. I arrive at work and get settled at my desk. I pop open Basecamp (our project management program), and check out my to-dos for the day. I start replying to emails, visiting with my coworkers, and the day turns into the afternoon. My job is the brightest spot in my life at the moment. Some might say that’s a dangerous place to be, but I think when your job helps do great things that make a difference in God’s kingdom and in the lives of people who need hope–it’s ok to be head-over-heels in love with it. (I’m really not trying to brag…my job isn’t any better than yours!) I look forward to going to work, I love being there and the work I get to do, I have great friendships with a lot of wonderful coworkers, and I do my best to keep the weight of my work at the front of my mind, to stay humble and grateful for the fact that God has placed me there.
After work, 9 times out of 10, I just go home. I eat dinner with my parents, then snuggle up with my dog on the couch and watch movies, listen to music or read books until it’s time to go to bed. I realize this is typical Minnesotan behavior for the dead of winter–so I’m not beating myself up for it. It’s just too cold to make plans every night and lounging under 20 blankets sounds much more appealing than getting in and out of your car one more time. But it’s a big part of why I get restless at the end of winter. And a big part of why THIS winter has me more restless than ever.
The isolation of winter wears me down. The repetitive nature of the daily grind wears me down, even though I do love my job. I just want to mix it up. I want to get OUT of here and see if grass and sunshine still exist. I want to go shopping for new clothes. I want to change my hairstyle. I want a new house. I want a new start. I want life to surprise me. I want a reason to get excited.
This restless discontent just clings to me, this year. All I want is DIFFERENT. NEW. NOW.
I look at houses online almost every night. But really, I only have about 1/4 of what I need to in savings in order to buy a house. I took the money I made from selling my townhome in Brooklyn Park and paid off some old college debt that was holding me back, so now I’m trying to save up enough to move to the next place. But I want things to happen quickly, I want to create excitement and change, so I press on looking at houses I can’t afford. I dream of inviting friends over and having big dinners. I imagine game nights. I imagine the opposite of wintertime isolation in my parents’ basement. When I had my own house, I loved the idea of inviting people over and treating them, making them feel at home, and hopefully having them leave my home feeling blessed and uplifted and cared for. I LOVED THAT. And I really miss it. Another thing I miss about having my own house is being able to decorate and arrange my furniture and belongings in a way that’s pleasing to me and to those who visit. That might sound like a surface reason for wanting to own a home–and I promise it’s not accolades for my decorating that I’m after. It’s a form of creative expression that I’m missing. I grew to really enjoy it and living in my parents’ basement with wall-to-wall furniture isn’t my ideal scenario. (I am typing this on my old kitchen table, next to a sectional sofa, an oversized lounge chair, an entertainment center, a record player stand, a large dresser, an end table, a bed, a smaller dresser and a vanity. *Sigh*)
I often look at vacations online, too. But people–if I can’t buy a house right now, I can’t afford to go on a vacation. Lord knows, it would do my spirit a LOT of good to feel the sun on my face and grass or sand beneath my feet. But I just can’t swing it. Can’t do it. It is what it is.
I may be stuck in this restless, discontented zone of 2014’s brutal Minnesota winter, with no clear direction about where I’m going to live in 2014, if and when I’ll get out of my parents’ basement, or if I’ll ever see the ocean on a vacation again (it’s been 15 years). But as I searched for houses online this afternoon, feeling a little bit of pain, stress and uncertainty in my heart, I heard God say something to me.
He said: Quit yer whining.
Yep. That’s how God talks. Didn’t know that, did you? Totally true. God speaks your language. 🙂
QUIT YER WHINING. Yep. I’m doing a whole lot of whining about things I don’t have, here. I see it. I don’t like it. I want to stop.
- I may not have my own home that I can freely decorate and entertain people in–but I have a home. I live with two people who genuinely love me and really, you can’t beat that setup. It might even be better than living alone.
- I may not live near most of my friends–but I have a car. And a job that provides enough money to put gas in it two or three times between paychecks. I can drive to their houses and visit and mix up my daily grind routine.
- I may not be able to entertain friends with cutesy dinners or game nights in my home–but I can bless them in other ways. I can still surprise them, treat them, and love them even in my unsettled situation.
- I may not be able to afford a cruise or a girls’ weekend in the sun–but I can have mini-vacations everyday. I can bake something sweet for someone. I can visit someone who lives a few hours away. I can watch a movie and have a mental vacation. I can sit in front of my space heater until I’m sweating…which has never happened because that’s just how cold it is here.
- They may be forecasting a low of -17 tonight with a wind chill of -30 (true story)–but it will warm up. Eventually. It has to. It always has. Spring has never NOT come. I just need some patience and positivity–and I’m praying to God for more of that.
I’m blessed WITH and WITHOUT. And it’s my choice to see that or to ignore it.
Don’t lose heart. This season of affliction is momentary.
I’m going to make it. We’re all going to make it. Rich or poor, with or without–daily blessed and lavishly loved by the One who gives us ALL things.