Doldrums, Begone!

I hate to be vague, but I forget exactly what blog I was reading. And when. It was probably a couple of weeks ago, during a cold, grey spell, and one phrase stuck in my mind: “winter doldrums.” According to Dictionary.com, “doldrums” can mean either
a state of inactivity or stagnation, as in business or art
or a dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits.

Even though in my part of Texas the grey periods are mercifully short and relatively mild (as I have mentioned before), I can relate to those doldrums. Can’t wait for spring. Dying to get outside and get over this cabin fever. Cooped up indoors under overcast skies, it’s all too easy to feel listless and stagnant.

What a whiner I can be! But as I thought about this, Chuck Swindoll came to mind. (If you are not familiar with Swindoll, he is a gracious and affable pastor, radio teacher and seminary chancellor.) Anyway, I knew I had read something by Swindoll based on the seasons, so I took myself to the living room bookcase this morning to track it down.

It wasn’t hard… right there at eye level was a little cluster of Swindoll books, with Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life right in the middle. No wonder my memory of it was a bit fuzzy… our copy is a first printing, which we apparently got before we even had kids (so, at least 25 years ago??)

I curled up on the sofa with the book and almost forgot to get on with the rest of my day. In his warm, personal style, Swindoll acknowledges the barrenness and shadows associated with winter. But he also reminds us of crackling fires, skiing, New Year’s Eve. Instead of resenting winter, he dubs it A Season of Reverence and suggests a helpful perspective on this time of short days:

Winter… the ideal occasion to slow down. To invest a few extra hours in quiet reverence. … Are you feeling depressed … alone … cold … barren? Beginning to wonder if your soul will ever thaw? Entertaining doubts that behind those thick, gray clouds there exists a personal, caring God?
Take it by faith, friend: He is there … What you are enduring is one of those dry-spell times when you’d rather curl up and cry than stand up and sing. That’s okay. Those times come.
They also pass.
When this winter season ends, you’ll be wiser, deeper, stronger. Therefore, in reverence, look up. Be still and discover anew that He is God.

Arranged by season with twelve 2-3-page essays for each month, reading this book is like having coffee-and-mentoring sessions with your favorite uncle. It even includes suggestions for applying what you read. In fact, as soon as I finish the magazine assignment I’m supposed to be working on right this minute, I’m going to take a break and enjoy one of the “January” essays.

So, I intended to offer us spoiled Southerners a more positive spin on a season that can be Doldrum City, but it looks like it turned into a book review instead. Oh well, there’s nothing like letting a more “seasoned” writer do the talking, right? I’m happy with our yellowing copy, but if you want the book it’s available online in both new and used, paperback and hardcover editions.

Thanks for reading!
Jan

Today I am linking up with Rachel Anne and the Company Girls. Company Girls, you might also like my previous post. It’s about husband/wife communication, sort of.

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8 Responses to Doldrums, Begone!

  1. Cindy says:

    Ah, winter in Texas. What a great place to live! I found it very refreshing and somewhat uplifting to take a stroll on a Texas beach in winter. My favorite place during the summer so why not try it during the winter? There is something calming about waves crashing or rolling onto the beach. I reflect upon God’s majesty, power and love. Listening to Charles Swindoll while walking on the beach would be a huge breakup of the doldrums! Love ya!

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  2. Having grown up in Minnesota and now living in Tennessee, it does make me laugh when other former Northerners complain so much about the winter and are so ready for spring. (I have more patience with southern-bred complaints!) I want to say, don’t you remember how long winter lasted up there? Next week, we’ll get a peek at spring even though we’ll still have some more winter days.

    I enjoy Chuck Swindoll a lot. I have been contemplating the season of winter and how perhaps I need to simply accept that I will get less done (at least less perceived things done). So, I really enjoyed the quote that you shared. I’m not in a sad season — we are rejoicing right now actually. But I still find that I have less energy & get up & go in the wintertime. I’m thinking I need to listen that rhythm that I see patterned in nature by God. Thanks for sharing your book review!!

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  3. Diane says:

    I actually like winter – everything is slowed down as nature stores up energy to come bursting forth in spring. We need that season of recharging as much as the trees do, though we recognize it less and chafe under it more.

    While I’ve not read too much of Chuck’s work, I’ve read several of his sister Luci’s books – same sort of style and humor that still communicates important truths.

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    • Jan says:

      Diane, I love your perspective on this! Thank you for taking time to write. Now I’d like to try some of Luci’s books too… I always appreciate recommendations.

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  4. Bobbi says:

    Ah, that quote explains exactly what I was trying to explain to my friend the other day. I’m not depressed, down about the weather per se…It’s just a slow down time…that deeper study, introspection. Winter (the season) forces me to slow down and do the HARD work I should probably be doing all year long. I hope that Swindoll is right…that I’ll come out and into each Spring “wiser, deeper, stronger.”

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    • Jan says:

      Whoa, your actual winters must be waaaay longer and colder than ours. And seeing your blog, I think each spring will find you as Swindoll predicts.
      Thank you for stopping in today!

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