"No Bad Weather"...Seriously?
If there were an app that could forecast the weather of the heart, how would yours read?
Sunny today with no chance of rain.
Overcast with thunderstorm watch.
Barometric pressure rising rapidly.
Hurricane activity with potential downgrade to tropical depression.
The autumn season here in Norway is typically cool and rainy, but you’d never know that from the behavioral patterns of the Norwegians. Shortly after we arrived, new friends cheerfully taught us a popular Norsk rhyme:
Det finnes ikke dårlig voer, bare dårlige klær. “There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”
These practical people bike, walk, and hike whatever the weather. They simply know how to dress for it.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if every day were as sunny as San Diego, as flower-scented as Honolulu? Rain would fall gently only during nighttime, and squalls would quickly settle. No bad weather ever. Right?
But maybe you’re pulling out your anorak right now, and the moisture sliding down your face isn’t raindrops.
How do you navigate the weather of the heart – those emotional conditions more wildly unpredictable than any polar vortex or bomb cyclone?
I’ve been taking a few lessons from experienced weather-wranglers.
First, accept life-conditions as they are, not as you’d like them to be.
Light in Norway is a precious commodity, with as little as 6-7 hours of winter sunlight in the south and none in the north. To accommodate, many Norwegians build their homes with exceptionally large windows to make the most of the limited light.
Acceptance isn’t a popular position in the “live your best life now” era, but the wisdom of the spiritually-weathered knows that peace accompanies acceptance of that which we cannot change. Jesus taught that the rain falls on the just and unjust alike, while the sun shines on both the evil and the good (Matthew 5:45). We manage our expectations by working with what is, not what we wish it to be. Capture that elusive light wherever you can.
Secondly, anticipate periods of physical or emotional stress and adjust for it.
Mike and I brought lined raincoats and waterproof backpacks with us to Norway, but I was unprepared for hiking at higher elevations. My new friend Judith kindly loaned me an insulated vest and red jacket that I’m wearing in every photo we’ve taken of our climbs. In coastal regions of the US, residents brace for hurricane season by stocking up and hunkering down.
Maybe you need to hunker down right now too. Could be you’re in a sandwich season spread thin between the needs of growing children and aging parents, or your own health is wonky right now. When you see turbulence approaching in your personal life, please take the advice you’d give to a close friend. Adjust for it. Edit your life and be ruthless with the red pen, excising commitments that can wait for another day or be handled by someone else.
Finally, ask for help. (Gosh, can’t I tell you something you haven’t heard before?)
Ah yes, that fashion-forward metal brace I’m sporting rather than a warm Norwegian sweater. You would have to point that out.
My back locked up in a decidedly unglamorous way while I was reaching for risegrøt (rice pudding) at the local Coop last week. (Let this be a lesson to you of the perils of loving pudding.) I shuffled into church Sunday leaning heavily on Mike’s arm on one side and a cane on the other, my ice-bag leaking onto the seat during a particularly warm rendition of “In Christ Alone.” Not my best look.
We came to Norway to serve, not to be served, but when help was kindly proffered we gratefully accepted. Jill loaned me a heating pad and cold wrap, Kristy contacted her chiropractor, and Rebecca brought over her back brace. We’ve only known these wonderful women a matter of weeks but when my back went out, they rushed in.
Honestly, most of us would rather help others than need it ourselves. We want to be useful, to feel we have a purpose in taking up space on this planet. But to be fit to give we also need to receive. God is omniscient, people are not. Reach out! I credit the Irish with a favorite proverb: “It is in the shelter of each other the people live.”
Scripture says it best.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." Isaiah 43:2-3
When it comes to acknowledging that life will be turbulent at times, the operative word is when, not if. We should anticipate it, adjust for it, and humble ourselves to ask for help.
And while you’re at it, stay clear of rice pudding.
If you’re bracing for bad weather or are already in a bad patch, please know you are not alone. Leave a comment here, anonymously if you like. I won’t be the only one praying for you.
Copyright 2019, Maggie Wallem Rowe. Feel free to share this with attribution, and sign up to receive weekly Views from the Ridge at www.MaggieRowe.com. No spam, ever!