What Winter Can Teach Us About Contentment

Guest post by Joey Cottle

Happy New Year. I want to offer you a New Year’s resolution.

Resolve to get outside. I know that seems crazy because it’s absurdly cold in Michigan right now (and in the U.S. in general), but I mean it.

But you’re an outdoorsy person, you say. Of course you’d tell us to go outside.

I’m not telling you to go camping right now or climb a mountain or anything like that. I talking simpler. Take a walk. Go sledding with your kids. Find somewhere you can go ice skating. Have you ever seen the stars on a crisp winter night? They’re brighter than any other time of the year, and you’ll have a great chance of seeing the northern lights.

But I’m cold, you say. I hate being cold.

And that’s the rub of it. So many of us who live in the great white north get frustrated and depressed during these six-ish months of the year because we’re afraid of the cold and annoyed with snowy commutes. And I get it; don’t get me wrong. It’s gray until April, and the commutes really are annoying. But, I think there’s a deeper lesson for us here, something God is trying to teach us that we might be missing.

There’s beauty to be had in all of life, whether it’s sunny and 85 or snowing and just above zero. Just yesterday I was driving through East Grand Rapids and I found myself overwhelmed at the beauty of the snow-covered neighborhoods. Yes, the roads were crap and it took us forever to get anywhere, but if you took a minute to look, it was really beautiful. This morning I woke to temperatures just above zero, but the sun had broken through the lake effect snow clouds and given the day a golden hue, the brightness magnified by the white on the ground. If I’m honest, these are some of my favorite days of the year; there’s no breath of air like the bitter cold crispness of deep winter.

I think God wants us to learn to appreciate our circumstances. The apostle Paul said to the Philippians, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Winter is a good place to start learning contentment. Try to look beyond the hood of your car on Tuesday morning to see how winter has painted the world around you. Go take a walk around the block and see the snow clinging to tree branches and cardinal bellies. Take a drive to the ski lodge and hit the slopes for a day. Throw on your boots and go sledding with your kids.

If you learnt to enjoy it, just maybe winter will be over a little too soon.

Joey Cottle is a pastor and writer from West Michigan where he lives with his wife, Abigail, and two kids, Liv and Levi. He’s passionate about theology, leadership, and a host of other things. Check out his personal blog here.

About Karin

Journalist, singer, reader, movie fanatic, photography buff, GVSU alum, wanna-be-Brit, Crohn's fighter, Coca-Cola addict, animal lover, not a kid person, hater of winter, Michigander
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