Apologizing to January

The Christmas decorations are down …

The kids and grandkids have gone home …

The Christmas cookies have all been eaten … or thrown away …

It is a bone chilling 13 degrees outside and yet has the audacity to demonstrate the symptoms of a cruel and heartless minus-2 …

Craig has a bad cold … I so hope that it is not the flu …

My calendar says that it is January …

As I opened the pantry door yesterday morning, I saw, out of my peripheral vision, the new calendar that will hang in that appointed spot for 366 days this year.  As my eyes began to focus on the lovely and carefully selected calendar given to me at Christmas by a darling daughter-in-law, I suddenly realized that I have never liked January.

I don’t like the weather in January … the bills are knocking at my door in January … it’s 11 long months until Christmas … it’s too cold to walk outside in January … the house is achingly quiet in January … January is just so exasperatingly frigid and so unbelievably drawn-out.

31 … Arctic … Echoing …Lonely … Unending … Non-eventful …Days.

My laundry room has the residue of January all over it … if you don’t live in the north, you simply do not understand.  Allow me to explain …

Gloves without a partner are scattered on top of the dryer.  Damp boots develop an odor that is quite unlike any other.  Small pieces of salt from the driveway create a unique crust on the laundry room floor.  Coats and scarves are flung across every open surface in a futile attempt to dry them out from the torrent of snow, ice, freezing rain and flurries that are a normal part of our every day world.

January.  You’ve been hard on me.

As I began to close the pantry door yesterday, the Holy Spirit stopped me and quietly whispered, “I like January.”  (I could almost hear the smile in His voice.)

What?!!  Who actually likes January?!!  Yikes!!  Could I have been wrong for all of these years?!

I spent yesterday pondering my disdain for an otherwise promising, new and exciting month. I wanted to get to the heart of my issues.  (And yes … I do have issues in case you haven’t noticed by now.)

But enough about me and my issues … let’s talk about you for a minute.

What is it in your otherwise promising life that has become a “January” of sorts for you?  Is there a person, an event, or an attitude that is continually cold and messy?

Is there a circumstance or an area of your life that you have allowed to become a deficit rather than a benefit?

Does your heart have the flu?

Is there a crust on the surface of your life that has gathered because you have neglected to clean up from storms that have passed?

Perhaps the Holy Spirit is whispering to you today.  

Perhaps the Holy Spirit has a sweet and simple message for you as you try to ignore that which has become a nuisance rather than a blessing, “I like this part of your life.”

The Holy Spirit has the insight and the compassion to understand all of the “Januarys” in one’s life.  And yet … the Holy Spirit also has the hope and the purpose to help cold and lonely people discover the joy in it all.

What?!!  There is joy in January?!!  How can that even be possible?!!

You see, what I discovered yesterday, is that the joy in January comes not because of outward trappings … not because of pleasant weather … nor does it arrive due to the lack of “messy”.

The joy found in January comes in spite of and not because of.

The joy that belongs only to January is not found nestled in her warm heart nor is it discovered by enjoying the lush view.

The joy of January rises in defiant opposition to the frozen tundra of heartache and  disappointment.

The joy of January shines in resilient fortitude in the midst of flu-like symptoms and cast-aside resolutions.

Do you want to know what I believe?  

I believe that the Holy Spirit treasures every January that is encountered in life.

I believe the conditions of a January force one of God’s dearly loved and fiercely protected children to look to Him and not to be enveloped in the tropical and balmy issues of life.

Perhaps the reason that God has allowed the conditions of a temporary January to invade your life is in order for you to hibernate in Him.  Perhaps this is the season in your life when it is time to hunker down into the warmth and sustenance that only He is able to offer.

And so, January, bring it!  Bring on the snow … the cold … the dark … the lonely … the endless … the bills … the sniffles … and the frigid!  Bring it!

I am well content … no … I am delighted … to discover the purpose and the joy that my circumstances are unable to deliver!

I apologize, January.  I have been hard on you thinking that you had been hard on me.  Forgive me for not looking beyond the surface of what you offer in order to discover your heart.

And now I gaze in wonder at the calendar that is hanging on my pantry door!  

What?!!  Are you kidding me?!!  I get to experience the joy that mocks the conditions of January for 31 potential-filled days?!!  I get to spend time in His dear presence while this month marches on toward the promise of spring?!

January!!  How I love thee!!  Let me count the ways and the days!!