It is snowing. Again. My pulled shoulder muscle has barely stopped aching from the last time I cleared the driveway. I sigh, check the sky to make sure it’s finished – or at least slowing down – before I bundle up in layered warmth, grab the shovel, and head outside.
It’s the middle of winter in Alaska. Yes, in spite of the fact that this article is being published at the end of February with the vernal equinox just a few weeks away, it really is still the middle of winter. We’ll likely have snow through April, lingering atop the mountains all summer long.
This has been a much more difficult winter for me, our second in the Last Frontier. Last winter we experienced record snowfalls – 133.6 inches total, over 11 feet of snow. This monumental winter was followed by a colder and wetter summer than normal, and an autumn I nearly missed for blinking. No wonder it’s been tough. We’ve hardly had a chance to thaw!
Many days this winter I have found myself tired and lonely, fighting lethargy and negativity, even resentment as friends on Facebook posted Hawaii vacation photos, chatted about visiting one another at the beach or a sunny park, or complained about turning on the air conditioning in January. Time zone differences (we are an hour behind Pacific time) have added fuel to the sense of isolation I often feel living here.
What’s a girl to do?
One truth I’ve learned is this: The more I focus on the negative, the further I fall into the pit of despair (insert raspy Princess Bride voice here). I work very hard to remain upright, smiling, energetic, and busy. But in spite of the many hats I wear, the vitamin D capsules I consume, and the many jobs I fulfill, I can still be blindsided with feelings of loneliness, jealousy, and yes, resentment at others’ blessings. This is not how God wants me to be. I know this is true, and His Word gives me comfort.
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5b, NLT)
…even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you. (Psalm 139: 12, NLT)
When I get discouraged and feel myself sliding into that “pit of despair,” I log off the computer and go look outside. Maybe I’ll find a new bird to add to my “big year” list, or I’ll see the mountain across the street and admire its beauty, or even catch a ray or two of sunshine when the clouds dissipate.
And I pray. God usually answers just when I need it the most—a text from a friend, an encouraging email, or a hug from my family.
The good news is that winter will not last forever here in Alaska. The sun will linger in the sky a few minutes longer each day, the salmon will run in the nearby rivers, the bears will come out of hibernation and dig in the trash bins, and the nesting birds will regularly fly by my office window. The snow will melt, the grass will grow, and the wildflowers will bloom.
There is always the hope of spring, both outside my window and inside my soul.
Pattie is the proud wife of an Air Force chaplain, mom of two teenage girls, web content editor for Wives of Faith (www.wivesoffaith.org), a community co-leader for (in)courage (www.incourage.me), active in her installation’s PWOC, and a college English instructor. She and her family make their home in south central Alaska.
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