I know we aren’t technically in the clear yet, but I am so, extremely excited that winter is on its way out. Punxsatawney Phil and I aren’t the best of friends, to say the least. But now that these last 6 weeks (7 weeks, 8 weeks, 4 months…?) of winter are coming to a close, I am not sorry. Winter tends to make me feel sort of blah, I think because of the lack of sun, the cold days which tire me out, and just the fact that everything seems harder. I can’t get out and go for walks as easily (hello, negative degree days) and if I do make it outside for some fresh air, everything seems to take 10 times more effort.
But I digress, as the point of this post is not to be a dissertation about why I don’t love winter.
1. Learning to embrace the seasons…
This winter, my husband and I *tried* to embrace the scandanavian principle of friluftsliv which basically means that it’s important to get outside in all kinds of weather. I know it’s good for me to go outside and I feel much better when I force myself to do it even when I don’t want to. Embracing the outdoors when the outdoors are not embracing me is not comfortable and it takes a lot of work. But life isn’t meant to be comfortable or easy.
I think that learning to embrace the yearly seasons has taught me a lesson about embracing different seasons of life, so to speak. Just like winter predictably arrives each year, my own life tends to ebb and flow in terms of how difficult it feels. For example, my husband and I had a conversation after one of our first conflicts in our newly married life, in which I felt really awkward about the fact that we had communicated so poorly. My husband graciously reminded me that it’s unrealistic to expect to agree perfectly on everything, or to expect that we will treat each other perfectly every time. Rather, what’s important about those times is how we conflict, and that we continue to prioritize each other and our marriage above all else, second only to God.
Similarly, we’re all transitioning out of one of the weirdest years of our lives and still feeling the very raw wounds that many of us suffered at the hands of 2020. As much as I like to think the 2020 was an ‘unprecedented year,’ it wasn’t. There were other horrible years before 2020, and there will be other horrible years again in the future. But life will always get better. There is reason for hope. Spring will come. He is making all things new.
2. Curry lentils and feeling satisfied.
In general, I don’t prefer vegetarian meals because they don’t fill me up or keep me full for as long as animal protein does. I find it extremely inconvenient to feel hungry again shortly after finishing a meal, and therefore prefer to eat meals that have staying power. For this reason, we usually add some form of meat (usually chicken) to bean or lentil-based meals because it keeps me going longer.
However, we recently made a batch of lentil curry simply because we did not have any other food (i.e. animal protein) in the house, and I found myself eating about twice as much food as I normally do for my given hunger level. I remarked to my husband that lentils just don’t fill me up. He said the opposite, that lentil and rice dishes actually make him feel full much faster than usual. As he said this, he passed me his plate and I finished half of his food in addition to my own second helping.
I noticed myself feeling a little frustrated that I didn’t have the same experience as my husband in terms of my level of satiation from eating that given amount of food. Then, I realized that my frustration was coming from the desire to eat a predictable amount of food, something that makes me feel in control. But, the point of eating is not to consume as little food as possible, or to try to manipulate or control the amount of energy I provide to my body. My body clearly knows what it’s doing when it tells me that lentils = second helpings.
The point of eating is not to try to consume as little food as possible.Tweet
As I noted in this post, I’ve been realizing more and more lately that I still have a tendency to try to latch on to food or my body for a sense of stability, clinging to the fact that these parts of my life are often predictable. But my body is not going to stay the same for my whole life, and neither is my appetite. I have decided that it is important to me to get comfortable eating all kinds of different foods because I don’t want to be averse to certain meals because of the amount of food I will need to eat to feel satisfied.
3. Your body is good.
I was listening to a podcast by the Sheologians, and they recommended a book called Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcey. I vaguely remembered hearing about the book before, so I reached out to my in-laws (who read a lot) and they luckily had a copy for me to borrow.
Oh. My. Word. It is so good.
Essentially, the author writes from the perspective that our bodies are good, created by a divine and wise God who knew what he was doing when He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs. The very first chapter dives into the predominant philosophy in our society about the separation between mind and body (i.e. “I am a soul, my body is not who I am.”) and challenges readers to consider the fact that God would not have given us fleshly bodies if they weren’t important. Pearcey explains that our bodies are integral pieces of who we are, inseparable from our souls, because they are the vessels in which we live, love, think, explore, and interact with the world. There were countless times throughout the reading of this book that my jaw was literally dropping because she gave words for emotions and thoughts I had been struggling to articulate even to myself.
I highly recommend this book to people of all walks of life.
4. Rest is so, so, so, so essential.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I went away for the weekend for the first time since COVID closed down the world last March. It was so nice to abandon our responsibilities and just take time to focus on each other, eat good food, rest, and let ourselves rejuvenate. We literally didn’t do much of anything (the Midwest still is pretty shut down) except go to restaurants, lay around, and sleep. There was no cooking, no working out, no working or preparing for work, no chores. Just being. And enjoying being. I think in some ways, heaven will have elements of that. There will be no hardship or heartbreak, no earning, no striving. We will just be with our savior.
In the days of my eating disorder (and even for some years after I recovered) I struggled to sit still. If I wasn’t going and doing something, I felt sort of…meaningless. Directionless. Purposeless. My husband taught me a lot about the importance of rest, and the holiness found in being able to do nothing, to just be. He has taught me so much and balances me so well, and I’m so grateful to have learned this lesson now. I don’t want to rush my life away and miss out on the opportunity to experience God through rest because I’m too agitated to sit still.
Speaking of the good food though…I had this chicken ‘n’ waffles meal for brunch and it was AMAZING. The chicken had a spicy chili/honey sauce on it, the creamy sauce was something jalapeno, and it was all finished with a fried egg, green onions and syrup. Mind blowing. After devouring this, we went home and
5. Things are better when they’re shared.
I often think back to when I studied abroad in Europe and wish that I could sort of re-live that time but as my current self…more mature, in a better place emotionally, and with the people I love. Something I’ve learned over the past decade of my life is that life in general is all about relationships. That is, my relationship with God, and my relationship with other people. My relationship to other things affect those two primary relationships, and it’s therefore important to keep them all in balance through self care. But again, I digress. (This seems to be a habit in my writing style lately. Sorry about that…)
Anyway, I used to daydream about traveling and doing all these romantic sounding things, but I’ve since come to realize that life experiences lived out by myself aren’t nearly as wonderful as they are when they’re shared. I can remember walking through ancient Rome and seeing the ruins, being so awed by them, and wishing that I had someone with me to point them out to, to revel with, to reminisce with later. Nowadays, almost all of my favorite things are shared with the people I love. Whether that means exploring the woods with my sister and her kids, trying new foods with my best friend, or traveling to a new city with my husband, everything is more enjoyable when it’s shared with the people I love.
I think that sentiment is reflected in hospitality. Visiting with friends in their homes, getting to know their children and their pets, helping wash the dishes after dinner, all of those experiences add spice and meaning and fulfillment to life. Eating something delicious by myself is maybe satisfying, but it’s so much more gratifying when I can share it with others, whom I love.