I often find myself in a bit of a slump in February and I know many people experience something similar.
In my part of the world this time of year is cold and grey, accented by bitter winds. We are often blessed with dazzlingly white snowfalls, but the feathery flakes soon turn to ashen slush and I quickly forget how magical it was at first. Instead I find myself focusing on the nuisance of slippery surfaces, salt stains and soggy shoes piling up by my front door. Snow was still special last month. Now it’s old news and harder to appreciate even when it’s still nice to look at.
But it’s not just the seasonal surroundings that can get me down in February. Maybe it’s just that it’s the second month of a new year and doesn’t stand a chance of being as exciting or important-seeming as the first. The new year’s fireworks have long since faded and perhaps our resolutions and hopes for a fresh start have already been abandoned. Maybe we’re already sighing about the things we intended to do better or differently this year and are looking to next month or even next year as the time to try again. Maybe February is when our leftover Christmas spirit feels stretched thin and stale, no matter what those popular carols say about keeping it alive year-round.
Whatever it is about this time of year, as I’ve reflected on this annual spiritual slump, a small voice keeps bringing me back to this Christmas prophecy and I feel a glimmer of hope when I read it or say the words to myself:
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
3 The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
If, like me, you experience a weary wobble this time of year, I hope that you can find a spark of renewed energy in this passage. It’s a reminder of the light that the Lord shares with us, especially in dark times. It takes the pressure off a bit—we might not be feeling too shiny ourselves, but the Lord’s light is there to guide us. One of my favorite song lyrics puts it like this: “We are shaped by the light we let through us.” Instead of focusing on how “this little light of mine” isn’t the beacon we wish it was, maybe we can think more about how to let the Lord’s light shine in our lives. After all, our light isn’t really ours. It’s His.
Maybe this dreary time of year is an invitation to make a new kind of space for the Lord’s light in our actions and intentions. We can take the first steps to create that space by reading the Word, changing a habit, paying attention to our breath, counting blessings, praying, trying out a new creative medium, going for a long walk…the possibilities are endless. (And I welcome more suggestions in the comments).
Maybe another trick to kicking the February doldrums is to stop thinking in terms of New Year’s resolutions. They are overrated. The new year isn’t some miraculously perfect time to do things differently. We haven’t missed our chance. Now isn’t the time to give up. Now is the time to try or try again. And what we try doesn’t have to be big. It is enough to just shift our focus slightly and make some space for brightening. Even if we don’t feel the difference right away, putting in that small effort to budge the heaviness is a step in the right direction. The Lord doesn’t ask us to charge into the fray or dance around as if everything is perfect. He just asks us to stand up.
Wherever you are, I hope you’ll join me in trying to light up the rest of February. Or the beginning of April. Or the end of November. The Light is ready whenever you are.
For your light has come!