THIS WINTER has seemed to drag on forever, with more than our fair share of rain, clouds, drear, cold, and snow(!). Things got to a point that I started visiting with some I know in the mental health profession about the reality of Seasonal Affective Disorder – a condition wherein people who have a ‘normal’ mental health through most of the year wind up fighting depressive symptoms. SAD is found most commonly during the winter months.

Through researching on a strictly lay-person level about SAD, my mind began to go forward to our faith and how our environments definitely play much more of a role in our faith than we might normally realize. Most people, I believe, would find it easy to be positive, excited, encouraged, and energetic during times of sunshine and ‘good’ weather.

But what about those times where even if the weather is fine, our moods are dark and our spirits dry because all we are willing to see is doom, gloom, and despair? What then?

The strange thing that happened last week was obvious and simple – a couple of days of warmer and sunnier days. Whether in the office or hanging out in the back yard with Anna, the change in atmosphere begat a change in attitude to the point where I was feeling better and healthier than I had in months. Just from the sun coming out and the temperatures rising, so much changed.

It is kind of hard to miss the big, bright orange orb in the sky. It is kind of hard to miss a rise in temperatures that allow you to bring out some of the more comfortable and lighter clothing in the closet. 

Easy, though, is the ability to miss other life-giving and burden-relieving gifts because we put ourselves in position to have the good blocked out because of our obsession with the negative. What is it in our lives that is being suppressed because we make no room for it because of our insatiable desire (consciously or subconsciously) to be stressed to the point of martyrdom?

What is really tricky is that this issue is so personal and contextual. There are no blanket answers here – but there are questions we can ask of ourselves and each other that can allow us to help discern what is the life-giving sunshine in our lives and what is it that we are allowing to kill us.

Here’s a start: We all have 168 hours in our week. 

1. Do we realize how much control we have over those 168 hours?

2. Do you realize you have exactly the same amount of time as everyone else in the world?

3. How much do we blame others or circumstances for those 168 hours being used as they currently are, as opposed to owning the fact that we have given others the ability to control those hours because of decisions we have made which have nothing to do with the one in question, even though it is to them we direct our anger and fury?

4. When it comes to constructing the use of those 168 hours, do we intentionally set time for our souls be be nourished and replenished through connection with God and one another through prayer, study, worship, and other spiritual disciplines?

5. What in our lives needs to change so that rather than killing us, the 168 hours develop into a rhythm that not only gives us live, but allows us to give life to others?

As a fellow traveler on the journey of life with you, I know first-hand these questions are not easy, and the answers to which we will be led by their very nature may cause some temporary pain in your life and the lives of those around you. However, it is absolutely essential to your health and well-being (physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological) that you not only make time for the sun to shine in your life, but also that you provide the wind needed to move out the clouds of your life that are keeping you from basking in the warmth of the sun. 

And, what do you know, we are in the season of Lent – the PERFECT time to do some spring cleaning and let the sun shine in all aspects of your life.

Grace and Peace, Lamar