As I sit here on this beautiful Fall afternoon, with just a slight chill in the air, I am reminded of the changing of the seasons and the upcoming arrival of winter.
Winter, for those of us who live in the northern US, is a long, cold, dark season. And, not surprisingly, it often brings an accompanying change in mood ... especially for those of us who have lived through northern winters for most of our lives. The dark and cold brings about a long season of whining and complaining, as folks yearn for the coming of summertime once again.
Mark Twain once said "everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it." In recent years, this statement has come to my mind more than once. We Northerners often view complaining about the weather as our birthright --- complaining about shoveling snow and defrosting cars and heating bills and precious little daylight is an ordinary part of life. But complaining about the weather does nothing; it doesn't make it easier to endure, and it doesn't make it easier for anyone else to endure it, either.
As an evangelical Christian, it's also seemed terribly weird for me that Christians complain about the weather. We read verses like "Every good and perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17). We sing hymns like "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" that celebrate the seasons. And then we read other verses like "Do everything without grumbling or arguing" (Phillipians 2:14) ... right before we leave church and complain about having to scrape the snow off our cars. The cognitive dissonance hurts my brain.
So, last fall, I made a secret resolution. I resolved that I wasn't going to complain about the winter. It's not like I'm some hearty "winter warrior" who resolved to go running naked in the snow, or ride my snowmobile to work, or build the world's largest snow fort. But I decided to choose not to complain about the cold and the dark and the snow. And I decided not to join in when others complained about those same things.
I didn't do this to make a political statement, or a social statement --- or any sort of statement at all. I didn't tell anyone I was doing this. I simply decided to do this for my own benefit.
And you know what? I had a better winter as a result. It really wasn't that hard to stop complaining, and to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). And because I wasn't complaining, I had a much better mood through the whole winter. I spent my time outside enjoying the gifts given to me rather than focusing on the gifts I didn't have.
So, as I see the seasons changing once again, I have a challenge for you.
Resolve this year not to complain about the cold weather. Instead, resolve to give thanks for the weather that is provided for you. Seek out the good in what you have, not in what you don't have.
I've created a Facebook Group called the Winter Anti-Griping Society (https://www.facebook.com/groups/winterags/) for those of you who would like to take the pledge with me. Membership is open to anyone; feel free to invite others. (I'd also love it if those of you with artistic and/or Facebook talents would volunteer to spruce up the group page.)
It's time to stop talking about the weather and do something about it.