Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)
TITLE: The Coldest Season
By Carla Feagans
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At first, I was amused at his joy over something so small and inconsequential. But as I thought about it, I realized I could learn a lot from my son.
Like many people, I suffer from seasonal depression, especially during Indiana winters. Day after day of gray skies, barren trees, and freezing temperatures can and do affect my mood. I find myself trudging through each day, becoming irritable and easily frazzled. Sometimes I don’t even realize how bad it has gotten until that first sunny day in the spring.
Arguing with my husband or feeling rejected by a friend can also bring on those “winter blues”. It can even be an unkind remark from a stranger. During those times, I stop and try to thank God for my blessings, but it can be several minutes before I think of even one thing. Once I begin with one small starting point, though, my gratitude begins to snowball.
On one such occasion, I was working out at the gym after a particularly stressful day. Using one of the weight machines, I made sure to step away from the machine between sets. As I was about to start my final set, a woman came over and sat down. She began stretching, not using the machine and not meeting my eye. Very politely, I asked if I could work in with her, or suggested if she wasn’t ready to start yet, I could just finish my last set and be out of her way.
“No!” she told me rudely, “you are done. You have been hogging this machine and it’s time for someone else to have a turn.”
Startled by the hostility in her voice, I tried again. “I didn’t realize you wanted to use it,” I said, “I’d be more than happy to let you work in.”
“No, like I said, you are done,” she said emphatically. “It’s my turn now.” She continued to yell at me and even called me a name.
Immediately, my temper flared, and I began to argue back. After our exchange, I walked to the other side of the gym to continue my workout away from this cold, bitter woman, but my heart was racing and I was still very angry. All I’d wanted was to have a nice, peaceful workout, and this woman had made me even more upset. “Lord,” I prayed. “I don’t understand this. I want to be a Christian in this, but I think I have every right to be angry!”
As I prayed, my heart began to soften. As much as I didn’t want to, I tried to find something good about the situation. Struggling, I finally came up with the idea that I could be thankful that she didn’t haul off and hit me in her anger. That was pretty pathetic, but it made me feel more generous toward being thankful, so then I thanked God for being able to go to the gym, for having the strength and ability to lift weights, for my health, and so on. I even got to the point where I felt I could apologize to the woman for my response to her. I tried to find her again that night, but I didn’t see her.
A few weeks later, I saw her again. I approached her nervously, and started to tell her I didn’t know if she remembered me, but I wanted to apologize. Before I could even get the words out, she jumped in and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I have been looking for you to apologize, I had such a bad night that night and I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.” She told me about all the terrible things that had happened to her that day, and even gave me a hug.
We all have bad days, bad weeks, sometimes even months. In the winters of our lives, it can be difficult to find any joy. But when we start looking for it, we can find what is good in any situation. “To everything, there is a season...,” but in every season, God is good.
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