When Winter Stretches Past Its ‘Use By’ Date

I feel so restless I could bite someone. Winter is stretching far past its ‘use by’ date and with every passing day the longing for spring grows greater, the belief that it will never come stronger.

I feel like I am in exile.

Banished to the land of “Forever Winter”. Lost in the White Witch’s spell of “Always winter and never Christmas”. The video above, created by a friend, completely captures how I feel. 

I do everything I know to do to cope with this restlessness:

  • I work
  • I exercise
  • I read
  • I write
  • I bake bread, muffins, cookies
  • I play games
  • I watch Brooklyn Nine Nine, Downton Abbey, Sherlock, Nashville, Figure Skating. (yup – I watch a lot of TV during Exile)

But the restlessness pursues and I feel like I’m climbing the walls.

Exiled. Marooned. Banished.

The prophets write a great deal about exile and a people in exile. And it is no coincidence that God is speaking to me through the prophetic voices of Isaiah and Jeremiah. Speaking to me, a 21st century woman, and confronting, convicting me.

Jeremiah had a strong message for a people in exile. In fact chapter 29 of the book is devoted to those living in exile. And he offers instruction, hope, and warning.

The instruction is basically to keep on living life. Despite the exile, despite not being in the place they belong, the place they wish to be, despite wanting to (perhaps) bite someone, they are to build houses, settle down, have kids, “Seek the welfare of the city in which they live”.

The hope is a look to the future – a look to when the people of Israel will be back in a place where they belong, where God will show them a future that includes Him, answers to prayers, fulfillment of longings.

And then there is the warning – the part I want to skip over or write out of the narrative. Because the warning is as clear and straightforward as the instruction and the hope. The warning has to do with not listening, with not heeding words that have come from God and have been said again. And again. And again. Words that came from God and through prophets.

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So in this time where I feel exiled, even though I’m really not; where I feel far from where I want to be, the words of Jeremiah creep into my waking and my sleeping. Words of truth about exile.

Words that include God bringing me out of, back from, but most of all — faithfully through exile.

Do you feel exiled? How do you deal? 

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12 thoughts on “When Winter Stretches Past Its ‘Use By’ Date

  1. rejoice that you don’t live in Alberta, Canada this winter!! or rejoice in anything… find things to be thankful for! Praising God changes one’s outlook on life… it is all about where your focus is.

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  2. This was good. After yesterday morning’s brutal commute after an overnight clipper, I was a mess. I think I know what it feels like to have PTSD because I feel it physically every time I get in the car and need to drive on snow covered roads. I have been spared from mishap for the most part this winter, got stuck on a unplowed road a couple weeks ago and was in survival mode as I was to pick up grandkids that day from the sitter. It was treacherous the whole distance and then the PTSD began to happen even the next morning, just didn’t now what to call it until yesterday. BUT Jeremiah has given a new perspective on this. I had joked with coworkers that I have aged 10 years this winter. And when home there is that desire to stay indoors and then feeling exiled from others. Earlier in February I had the privilege of flying to NYC to visit my son, Jonathan. What impressed me was that we were out in the cold, with cold feet and all, but we were out and so were MANY others. Even as the sun was setting in Central Park on Sunday and the sledders were calling it a day, there were many people of all ages and cultures walking through the park and actually making me feel alive among them.

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    1. It’s actually one of the things I do love about living in the city. I love that I am forced to get out because I have to walk pretty much everywhere. And love that others are walking as well. It’s the ‘lean into your discomfort’ mantra. We were just in NYC visiting our daughter in college! I didn’t realize your son was there. We should meet up one day! I also didn’t remember that you too have a Jonathan!
      On aging – yes! I feel the same! I feel like i’ve aged a decade as well. So many sighs! But we keep on living life and planting vineyards – and I guess that’s what counts.

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  3. Winter can indeed feel like exile, like we’re not free. And our coping mechanisms usually aim to speed up these gloomy days! What do I do to deal? I work lots, eat loads of soup, complain and trust Jesus to bring the spring!

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  4. So much food for thought here . . . my first response was to agree, YES, exiled from the warmth and sun and growing things I love by this harsh NE winter. But then I thought more and felt my exile from the family home we all loved and chose (for all good reasons) to sell last year, and thought about our dear friend Richard, exiled from vital good health by Parkinson’s disease, and thought of my sister, exiled from the life and love she held so dear when her beloved husband died of cancer. And then the words you share from Jeremiah make even more sense. So yes to keep on living life, to be open to hope, and above all, to keep listening for the guidance and inspiration that is truly eternal and reaches us even in exile. Needed this today!

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