How to Endure What Feels Like a Minnesota Winter

Strength To Endure

Do you want to take a visual trip with me on my Minnesota morning car pool?

The temperature has risen 3 degrees since my husband left for work so it’s only -13 degrees and -25 windchill. Despite the fact that the car has been running for nearly twenty minutes, I enter the car already stiff with cold in my heavy parka, gloves, scarf and hat.

As I back out of my driveway, I might need to pop out of the car to look both ways over the 5 foot tall snow banks. But wait, my 4’11” self still wouldn’t be able to see.

We travel snow-packed roads out of our neighborhood and wait for more than a narrow gap to make a left hand turn; we’re going to need a lot of room to gain traction before that oncoming car meets us.  By the time I reach the main road, the driver’s and passenger’s windows form a thin layer of ice that I can scrape with a finger nail. The front window clouds from our breath.

The sun reflecting off the snow blinds me as I turn into the parking lot. I drive by memory, not sight, to the drop off. Before we even reach the end of the car pool lane, my teens grab the door handles, ready to exit, presumably so friends will not see their awkward mother driving them. I wonder why that is. Could it be that I’m scolding them as they leave the car into this frozen world because they are holding their coats and hats in hand?

As we come up on our 14th anniversary of moving to this frozen state, you’d think I’d be stronger and able to withstand much more. I am. And I have learned to endure. But by this time of year, every year, I’m finished proving my hardiness.

Sometimes when I read scriptures about enduring well, I imagine it means making my challenges into my friends and embracing them that way.  

Really? Is that possible? Maybe through chattering teeth and a clenched jaw, but I wouldn’t classify that as enduring well, either.

While we do not all have Minnesota winters to contend with, we all have challenges of life that chill us even more. In all seriousness, winter is only a metaphor that reminds us daily that challenges are real, and they hurt. Where do we get the strength to endure? And when we are hurting, what does enduring well look like?

Our family may not be hurting economically, as we were a year or so ago, but we’re still healing. And in my healing, I’m sensitive to the hurt of friends and family who have their own trials. For my own healing and theirs, I’m still seeking answers for how to ease the pain and endure well in trials.

But this message helps.

Kim B. Clark, president of Brigham Young University-Idaho gave a devotional address in January, Hold on Thy Way and God Will Be With Thee Forever and Ever,  that offers real answers about where to receive the strength to endure and heal from trials that are far greater than a cold Minnesota winter.

“I have felt impressed today to speak about the process through which the Lord’s atonement blesses us in times of trial,” he told the audience. Then, he read Mosiah 4:9, and said,

We hold on our way by turning to Christ with all our hearts, relying on His teachings and example to guide us and trusting in Him for strength and capacity beyond our own.

He shared one of my favorite scriptures about healing from the Bible and a three-part pattern that will help us in times of trial:

1. Turn to Christ with Humility and Faith in Him

President Clark said something that really helped me to understand why I sometimes feel so far away from my Heavenly Father and Savior during trials.

In times of trial, difficult issues and new demands on our attention and our time distract us. There may be temptations to turn elsewhere for relief. If we are not careful, we may stop doing the very things that will bring us divine help. We hold on our way by consciously saying to ourselves, I am going to look to Christ—give my heart to Him. And keep doing the things that connect me to Him and to His power.

That makes a lot of sense to me, as does the solution of seeking to open the channels of communication that help us come unto Christ—pray, search the scriptures, partake of the sacrament, worship in the temple, serve others, and counsel with parents and family members and priesthood leaders.

When the atonement of Christ is working in our lives, these channels literally light up with His spirit, truth, guidance, love and power.

2. Hear the Word of the Lord and Do It

The anxiety of a trial distracts me from feeling spiritual things as well as I’d like, making listening for answers tricky. Honestly, though, if I just look at it the same as I do when I’m not in a trial—as if I’m seeking His words for me to know how to repent and serve and love and keep moving forward, not just for Him to take away the trial—I do hear things quietly directed to me and my specific needs. The goal is holding on to that, trusting the source.

President Clark said that our answers will be specific to the situations we face, but the Lord will always direct us to do two things in times of trial—repent and serve.

Repentance will become a great source of power. Service on the Lords errand opens our hearts to His spirit and His love.

3. Face the Trial Head on with Faith and Not Fear

Ok right, here’s where my own personal response to every negative moment of our economic trial came in. My answer when I feared was, “I’m just going to give up.” I tried it, too, but all the icky stuff was still in front of me when I stopped crying.

The trials of mortal life usually require us to do hard things. Because things are hard, our natural reaction might be frustration, disappointment, a desire to find an easier way and especially fear. That is why it is a trial. We feel inadequate, and even at a loss. But we do not have to take counsel from our fears and our frustrations. We can act with faith in Christ’s power and His love to do what is hard with an attitude of hope and optimism . . . . He can strengthen us to do the things that are hard.

Can He really? For me? For my trial?

Yes. He can.

I endured for four years in a financial trial that felt that it would never end. But I stuck with Him. I continued to apply my faith to endure as well as could be expected through four long winters.

Was it hard? Yes. The irony of this all is that one of the physically hardest days was when we moved out of our home on a day like I described at the beginning. We were unloading a moving van in -25 degree actual temperatures in January in the middle of the night.

Despite the physically cold work, I received mental, emotional and spiritual stamina to endure that night and the upcoming months of transition and healing in strength. Why?

We were moving forward again, forging a new path designed with faith.

 

 

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