“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus
Before I even get into this story, I would like to write a disclaimer. I understand that in this world there are people who have rougher, more disappointing and despairingly dreadful lives than myself. I always say that I’ve had it harder than some, easier than most. But like any human, when the pressures of the world mount, you only see your own life and its struggles. Until the first Sunday in December of 2009, I only saw myself and the winter I stood in.
The fact is that the nine years prior to that weekend were exceptionally hard for someone who never thought he’d experience such tragedy, hardships, loss, and lies. Following the Y2K scare, it seemed everyone was so excited about what the new millennium held. Little did I know that when the year 2000 rolled into existence, the majority of my innocence would fade away. For the next nine years I watched family members fight and lie to me and to each other. Friends drifted away in both distance and death. And time seemingly rolled along without me.
By 2009, I was so tired. And no matter how hard I tried to be happy, that joy never lasted. For some reason, I just couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel even when I wanted to. On the first Sunday in December, I attended my mother’s church (Saint James Baptist in Troy, Virginia) with my family. There, Pastor Karlos Johnson preached a sermon about seasons. I don’t remember the exact scripture he took his text from, but I do remember him talking about a person’s growth or deterioration in the winter times of their life. Pastor Johnson reminded the congregation that all seasons pass, but there are instances when we hold onto the feelings of that season. Instead of embracing the now and all of its beauty, we are still mentally stuck in the dark depths of the past.
It was then that I realized I was my own worst enemy. The people that hurt me, the situations that haunted me, the feelings that hindered me were all from the darkest winter that I refused to let pass. Yes, those painful memories and experiences were still in my memory, but that day I understood that no matter how much wallowing in self-pity I did, it wouldn’t change a thing. The only thing those memories did was drag me down and suck away the life and time I should’ve cherished. While there have been struggles over the last three years, I refuse to let them steal my joy.
The winters of our lives are harsh, but they’ll pass if we allow them to. And when the spring flowers start to bloom, look back on those dark, cold times as a training ground – a time when you became a stronger, better person without even knowing that you did.