Faith: Dealing with mid-winter grumpiness

Damon Ramer
Bethany Christian Church in Smith

January and February seem to have a way of bringing about the grumpiness in people. For myself, I notice that late January and early February I feel sluggish, like I have to put extra effort into what are usually simple efforts. I find that I tend to more pessimism and that I have a shorter fuse.

My humble observation is that I do not think that I am alone.

Whether this is brought on by months that we see more darkness than light, the usual drop in temperature, or in part that we are recovering from the efforts that we put into Christmas, January and February tend not to be people’s favourite time of year.

Back to my grumpiness theory, that would be a normal statement in a normal year. This year we get to throw in the extra wrinkle of COVID. We are almost a year into broadly having to deal with COVID. There is something like a finish line in sight, but it is still far off. There have been economic stresses, extra work stress as we find our routines are shifted with extra precautions and efforts to promote safety. The stress of disconnection, that the vast majority of us, even us introverts, long for human connections and time together.

Sometimes I just like to be heard, to be able to share my frustrations, weaknesses and sadness as well as my joys, successes and strengths. To me, being able to share these with people help me with the sense that I matter to people.

I think it is fair to say that we have all noticed another aspect of how our frustrations are coming out this year, although maybe we do not notice when it is happening. We become quick with our complaints, criticisms and accusations and at the same time have less patience for any complaint, criticism or accusation that may come our way.

Probably nowhere is this more evident than in households, at least this has been our experience. Candidly, I think my wife and I have privately thought “I already have too much on my plate, and you are trying to add to it!” I think we keep this private because we are well aware of the outcome if we were to say it (on occasion it has slipped out in a time of frustration or anger).

It is not limited to our homes either. My wife and I have the benefit in our marriage that knows we will have frustrations, that we (at least I) will occasionally say something hurtful out of frustration, but that we can find the truth in it and reconcile and restore. In our communities, and online communities, I do not think that there is such a covenant, an agreement to see the best in another person and even in their possibly hurtful statements, and the same frustrations boil over.

The Bible offers some simple, but difficult, advice on this; let us be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. Human anger does not bring about real righteousness (James 1:19-20). Not easy words, but wise ones.

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