The Hope of Winter

A lot of my life has been lived in the stark white of cold and snow. Growing up in Southeastern Idaho, you get to experience a whole lot of wind, cold, and snow. Summers there are perfection, but the winters ... they can be rough.

Like most children, I loved the snow. I remember the excitement of waking up to a new world of white. I couldn't wait to get my snow clothes on. My brother and I would spend hours and hours outside in our huge backyard in the freezing cold, building snow forts with sand pails and water, to make the snow freeze into beautiful ice castle domes. We would shovel the snow into huge, gigantic piles so we could play king of the hill with our chocolate lab, Alpha. We'd play with friends in their yards, make snow angels, and lick our chapped lips from the cold, to unfortunately end up with a ring of chapped red permanently around our mouths most of the winter.

As I entered my late elementary and middle school years, I enjoyed going to ski school every Friday up at Kelly Canyon with other kids from my school. It was always very exciting. I got to go to the store and pick out a great lunch full of junk food, Lunchables and pop, ride up on the bus with friends, and ski to our hearts content most of the day. I always slept well those nights. I have incredible memories of sitting, alone, or with my best friend, in the complete solitude and quiet on an isolated, back country ski hill, listening to the snow gently fall around us, resting on the pine needles of the beautiful trees in the forest that surrounded us. I was never cold sitting there. The simple beauty always kept me warm.

I continued with ski school into my Jr High years, which turned from day skiing into night skiing. We got to ride travel buses up to the ski resort, watching movies to and from. There's something to be said about riding up a chair lift in the dark, watching the quiet darkness below you; watching a lone skier swish with pristine beauty.

My family took ski trips up to Big Sky Montana, where we would ski for the day and drive back to our cabin at Henry's Lake, Idaho. We first had a small, two bedroom cabin in Island Park, sold that, then my parents built two cabins by Henry's Lake. I learned to cross country ski on the main road outside our little cabin in Island Park, as an 8 year old. I still love cross country skiing to this day, and truthfully, that is the one thing I want for Christmas this year, a pair of cross country skis. There's something exceptionally fulfilling about it, being out in the cold beauty of winter, and not having to really pay much, if anything at all, to go on a trail. If I get my Christmas wish, I plan on even skiing around the field by my church, or my neighborhood park.
Enjoying Cross Country Skiing almost 6 years ago, on my 6th Anniversary.

Somewhere in my teens though, probably during my Junior Year of Hell, (that's a whole other story), I grew to associate winter with darkness, depression, cold, despair ... and waiting. Waiting for life to return in the Spring. Since then, I have fought my way through every single winter. I tell people that I enjoy winter for Thanksgiving and Christmas, maybe even the month of January, then it can just go away. Please.

I'm trying to have a different outlook on it this year. I've given winter a bad rap these past 16 years. And I am equating winter to my own personal battle that I have been fighting these past 8 months.

It is in times of deep and personal trial that we seem to learn the most about ourselves. I have, needless to say, been learning quite a bit about life in general, my life, myself, my family, and most importantly, my God, these past 8 months.

Trials are like the winters of our lives. They shouldn't be meant to just live through, to just grin and bear our way through the cold, until the Spring of our lives return. Just as there is beauty in the pureness of these cold winter months, there is beauty in trials. There is beauty in having ourselves laid stark and bare, stripped of everything we used to be, left as a blank, pure canvas, pliable, allowing God to make us into who He knows we need to become, rather than just staying who we used to be.

I found beauty and warmth sitting on a lone ski hill as a young girl. As a grown woman, I am finding the beauty of recognizing the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the warmth that it brings daily to my soul.

I view this winter of my life as a sort of re-baptism. I want it to blanket me with a clean, white slate, to cover the scars of these traumatic dark days; to wash them, hide them, help them fade. I want it to awaken me with its blinding, crisp coldness. I want to lay in the pure, unadulterated snow on a quiet, bright night, and let the flakes softly fall on and around me, as if to lightly touch and heal my soul.

There are possibilities with this new season. I hope to continue to let Christ's Atonement comfort and heal me. And I hope that by the time Spring comes again and an entire year has passed, I will find myself standing upright, smiling, confident, showing my scars, but stronger and better for it. I hope.


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