“I have a confession to make,” I told my husband on the phone. “What is it?” he asked tentatively. “I’ve spent a lot of time on Zillow today.”
He chuckled, because we have not discussed moving any time soon. “Why’s that?” he asked. “I just can’t do it anymore Brandon,” I sighed, “I just cannot live here in the cold. We need to move to where it’s warmer. We need to move to Virginia.”
I could hear him rolling his eyes on the other end.
“I mean it this time,” I assured him.
And I did. On April 19th, last Tuesday, it was snowing. S-N-O-W-I-N-G. It also snowed the day before that. And when I woke up and saw the blanket of white–something snapped inside me.
It’s always cold here! Always!
I hate it here. Why do we live here? It snows over HALF the year here!
*Here*, if you’re wondering is Erie, Pennsylvania. We are known for being one of the snowiest cities in America. Not a list you want to be ranking in the top 5 on.
But *here* we are.
(I’m not sure where you live, but do you ever just hate it?)
I mean, I like my house. I like the people around me. But the weather…the weather is just “the WORST” in my opinion.
It’s extremely cold for half the year, and hauntingly dark. I know this sounds like something Anne of Green Gables would say, but she was right about a lot of things. The sun rarely shines. The sky is usually gray or white, not blue. It’s not the cold that is the most terrible part, it’s the darkness. When I wake up to gray skies, my mood instantly drops. I’ve had to realize this, and work to counter it. I call them my “dark days.” Everything can be fine, but the darkness just seems to creep into your bones sometimes, it creeps into your soul.
Here in this cold climate, spring does not come in March, or April. Maybe May…if we’re fortunate. (And I just glanced up from my kitchen table out the window, and it’s snowing–again. It is April 27th. Somebody, pray for me.)
Most years I’m “okay.” But this year, it seems spring has been pushed back further, and further, and further.
We’re trudging around in boots, and hats, and gloves. And I’m walking into Old Navy and seeing all the colorful floral sun dresses, and giving the maniquins some serious “side eye” glare. That must be nice…for people who live somewhere that actually has “spring.”
So anyway, last Tuesday morning, I decided I was going to move our family out of the cold, arctic tundra, and into the warm, but temperate climate of Virginia!
I, who does not have a job. I, who homeschools our children.
But I was determined. I spent all the cracks of my day, (okay maybe the entire day) searching for houses or farms in Virginia. Doesn’t that just sound so quaint? A farm in Virginia. (I don’t actually want a farm, per say. Maybe a charming farm house, without animals, except our beloved chickens, but the idea was captivating me.) Besides, it would only be 6 hours from my parents, and 7 1/2 hoursfrom my mother-in-law. That was do-able, right? We could drive that in a day! My zeal increased as more tabs were open and the minutes passed by. My imagination soared.
I was really convinced we needed to move to Virginia. There was sunshine there, the kids and I could play outside so much more there, we could go on hikes there. Beyond that, it would be better for the kids, for their childhood, for their “education.” It would be better for my physical health (goodness knows our whole city is severely defficient in Vitamin D!), and it would be better for my *mental health.* Yes, I was going to pull out every single card in my pocket.
So, when my husband walked through the door after work, little did he know he was actually walking into my “Let’s-move-to-Virginia!” pep-rally. After I, (very persuasively, in my opinion) listed out all my reasons for us moving, he just stared at me, and then he sighed deeply. (You know the sigh if you are a married person.)
I gazed at him and then out the window longingly, probably looking like Anne of Green Gables, swept up in my rapturous idea.
“The very first thing, Bek,” he began, “The very first thing, is where would I work?” he said.
Ugh. The ever-practical one! I groaned inside.
“You could get a job anywhere!” I assured him. “Everywhere is desperate for good math teachers!”
He shook his head, unconvinced. “And what about retirement? You can’t just transfer your tenure to another state. I’m almost half way to retirement.”
Here we go, I thought. Retirement? We might not even live that long! I pleaded inwardly.
“Okay, well are you sure about that? Maybe you can look into it?” I tried to mask my frantic desperation and sound like this was all very reasonable.
“Bek, moving to Virginia isn’t going to make you happy,” he said looking at me.
There it was.
“Actually, I know what you’re saying. I know that it is true that my happiness and satisfaction come from Christ alone. That is true! I agree with you! But…I actually do think that moving to Virginia, where the sun shines, and it isn’t dark and cloudy and cold every day, would make me happi-er.”
We got into kind of an awkward stalemate, until we were both slumped on the couch and he was looking up random school districts in Virginia trying to see what the pay difference would be. (Which of course, is not posted on the internet.) “Look, those people look nice!” I pointed out the smiling faces in the obvious stock photo on the school district website. Needless to say, we didn’t get very far.
“All I’m saying is, we could pray about it,” I told him, earnest this time. “Can we just pray about it?”
“I know, it’s probably not gonna happen. I’m just saying, it’s worth considering. I mean, I can ask God to move us somewhere warmer, right?! I can ask Him?!” I said, not really sure if I was asking him, or telling him, or begging him.
Okay. Have you ever felt like this? Like something has got to break. Something has got to change. You just can’t keep doing the thing you’ve been doing.
That was me last week. And I knew I was probably just being “discontent.” (Yes, I’m putting big air quotes around “discontent.”) But the longing was real.
As shallow and silly as it sounds, I really felt desperate to go somewhere (move somewhere) where the sun shines more than here. Where the grass is greener. And where the air is warmer.
Living in such a cold and snowy climate–I felt desperate for spring. (It is still snowing as I write this.) I feel desperate.
And I don’t think feeling desperate for spring is wrong. Actually, I think it’s a foretaste of what we long for in heaven.
I think that the longing from everything being cold, and dead, and buried underground in the dirt, to getting warm, and soft, and pushing up out of the dirt like the first daffodils is something wired deeply into our souls.
I think God gives us a longing for spring.
In this physical world that God did make, I think that seeing and touching and smelling new life speaks to some deeper part of our hearts that longs for this to happen in our souls and in our bodies in heaven. (These are just my thoughts, by the way.)
But after my discontented Tuesday, and my hours long Zillow search, my heart was searching for something more.
Maybe, I’m just really longing for You. Maybe, I’m just really longing to be with You, in heaven.
The next morning, I spent time reading about “Our Heavenly Dwelling,” in 2 Corinthians 5. And this is what it says:
“For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” 2 Corinthians 5:2-5
It’s important that we read and interpret our experiences and emotions through the lens of Scripture, and not the other way around. Interestingly, all the feelings and emotions I felt were actually validated in this passage.
The longing to be somewhere else.
The groaning. (Done by both my husband and I.)
The feeling burdened.
The groaning and longing in this passage, is not about a person wanting to move to a different climate, rather, it’s about longing and groaning to live in a different world, a different body, a different universe. (Namely, in heaven, with God.)
But this passage gave language to something else I didn’t have the words for.
It talks about being “naked,” and wanting to be “clothed.” Think about that.
Would you go to the grocery store naked tonight? Target? Starbucks?
No, you wouldn’t…It’s kind of a weird analogy, but imagine going naked to any public place.
You’d be awkardly crossing your arms, and covering your private parts, ducking behind things. It would feel like a bad dream. (And if you’ve had dreams like this–they are more like nightmares!)
But being naked at the grocery store, is something like how we feel right now as we long to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling. Sometime doesn’t feel quite right, or complete as we dwell on this earth.
We have a longing to be “further clothed.” Covered. Secured. Made safe.
We have this longing, and this burden, and this desire to be clothed, it says, because God gave it to us. “He who prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” (2 Cor. 5:5)
I think all of us, not just the cold-climate dwellers, but all of us have a longing for more than nice weather. We have a longing, deep down, for nice people, and marriages, and babies, and bodies without diseases, or pain, or exhaustion. We have a longing, deep down, for another world entirely. Namely, one where God makes His dwelling among us–forever.
Is it Wrong to Long?
Okay, there are some longings that are wrong. But the longing for new life isn’t wrong. I still kind of want to move to Virginia. Maybe that will change when the weather breaks. Maybe not. The important thing is, what do we do when our “good longings” remain unsatisfied?
What do we do when we are trapped in a snowy climate where it’s dark and cold most of the year?
What do we do when we we feel “stuck” in a situation we can’t get out of?
Though my current dissatisfaction is with something as simple as the weather, there was a time in my life when my dissatisfaction and longing centered on my desire to have a baby. I had a barren womb, a barren soul, and what felt like a barren hope. Nothing could change my circumstance–except God. Only He could open my womb. And what if He decided not to? I had to come to the point where I could say, “I do desperately desire a baby, but even if you don’t give me the desire of my heart, you are still worthy of my worship. You are still worthy of my praise. Do whatever seems good to You.”
This was a prayer of surrender. Yes, I could still pour out my heart’s desire, and I did on a daily basis. But I could also lift my hands in surrender, and say, “I will worship You no matter what You decide.”
“You are enough for me,” became my prayer. Until I could say it with tears. And not the sad ones, but warm and happy tears, I could say, “You, alone, are the treasure of my life. And the life to come.”
And as I’ve gone through different seasons of life, from infertility, to motherhood, to marriage conflicts, post-partum weirdness, exhaustion, probably undiagnosed depression, and most recently cold-climate weather “rage,” I have to come back to the place where I say, “Lord, my life is yours. You are enough for me. Do what seems good to You.”
“Do what will give You the most glory.” I tremble at that prayer, to be perfectly honest. I don’t know it’s implications for my life, my kids, or my husband. But I know that He is good. And as the Psalmist says, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13
Satisfied in Pleasing the Lord
Now, I know some who are reading this might feel perfectly satisfied and content right now. And if that’s you (can you PM me and let me know if you are currently living in Virginia??) (KIDDING!!**;) Normally, I do feel content, happy, and full of gratitude for my “right-now” life. But there are those moments, and they usually come out of the blue, where you can just suddenly feel like, “this is the WORST,” “how did I get STUCK here?”
When DISCONTENTMENT does rear it’s ugly head (and you know it can get ugly!) Here is what I want to stand on (on my “dark days”), and here is what I want to encourage you to stand on on your difficult days. Let it be a rock you can cling to and rest on:
“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-9
There are some beautiful admonitions here. First of all, “we are always of good courage.” In other words, “take heart.” And it says this not just once, but twice! “Yes, we are of good courage.”
“We walk by faith, not by sight.” We do not walk by what our eyes see, but expressly by what we believe in faith.
And no matter if we are away from the body, or at home with Lord–we make it our aim to please him.
We make it our aim to please him.
Whether you are on earth, or in heaven–make it your aim to please him.
Whether you live in a mansion or a shack–make it your aim to please him.
Whether you live in the freezing cold, or the horrendous heat–make it your aim to please him.
Whether he has given you the thing you’ve longed for in prayer, or not–make it your aim to please him.
Wherever you are, however it feels, however long you’ve endured “this,” whatever you have, or don’t have–make it your aim to please him.
This is our calling, wherever He has placed us. And as author Rosaria Butterfield says, “God never gets the address wrong.” So, wherever He has us right now, today, we can make it our aim to please Him.
This is what I’m holding onto. And I want to share it with you, because I needed this word this week. Because through all my discontentment–all my bent ways and thoughts, I need the reminder that yes, I do have a longing, a good longing for something, for Someone rather, who is “other worldy.” But while I’m here, right here in cold and dark Erie, Pennsylvania, my hope is in Him, and my treasure is in Him, and whether the weather is dark and cold, or warm and beautiful, I will make it my aim to please him. Because He is worthy. And He alone can satisfy my longing soul. And He alone can lift the burden. And He alone can turn my graoning into music, and He alone can clothe me, and cover me in the way I long to be clothed, and covered, and made whole, in this life, and especially, in the life to come.
Remember, the one who prepared us for this is God.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
So, even if you are a cold-climate dweller, let Him be your hope today. Let Him be your light, for His face is like the sun, shining in all it’s strength. And one day, you will see it. One day, you will see Him. And you will be satified in Him, forever.
Meanwhile, we can sing today, here in the cold, as the snow falls out the window, we can sing. We can turn our groaning into worship, and He, He can turn our ashes into beauty, He can turn our mourning, into dancing. And we can sing:
are my strength my shield
To You alone
may my spirit yield.
are my heart’s desire
and I long to worship Thee.” — “As the Deer” Hymn
If this post resonates with you, may also like:
This Ugly House-(A tale of learning to be satisfied in Christ, in yes, a very ugly house.)
Stop Waiting to Be Happy– (About not waiting for pregnancy to experience the joy you were made for in Christ.)
When God Takes You From Barren to Beautiful – (The story of my soul’s journey from a place of lack to abundance during infertility.)
I also have a free Infertility Devotional available by signing up here!–>
I pray that the Lord meets you and shows you that He alone satisfies your longing soul. Please know, I’m still learning this myself. <3