No Way But Through: What Winter Solstice Taught Me About Facing Myself

Last night into today marks 2015’s Winter Solstice, when the Earth tilts on its axis, giving way to the longest night and shortest day of the year. I'm a person who loves to know the deeper meanings of things - everything from colors to names to dreams so I read up on the meaning of Winter Solstice and found that it’s a time for restoration both naturally and spiritually; a time of renewal, revival, rebirth; a time for letting go of old hurts and inviting newness, wholeness to take hurt’s place.

I like how Manifest Daily put it, “It can be a time to rest and reflect.  It’s the fruitful dark out of which new life can eventually emerge. In ancient times and for some today, the darkness itself is the spiritual cradle into which the Sun is reborn.”

Over the past few years my attention to intention and purpose has grown significantly. I'm amidst what I call a "personal renaissance" - I’m more connected to God than I have ever been. I crave growth at all costs. I need prayer time. I revel in conversation about spiritual revelations and awakenings. I’m moved by sunsets and leaves that pay homage to the rainbow. I’m more open to becoming all of who God designed me to be.  So finding out that Winter Solstice gives way to rebirth and renewal really struck me. I wanted in.

I wanted in on setting my intentions for a new season of my life; journaling about lessons learned in 2015; feeling new in some way that would lead me to being more aligned with my purpose. I wanted to feel, to be new.

The part of the Winter Solstice that I actively avoided thinking about - which is the most significant part of the entire phenomenon - was that it creates the longest night of the year. More often than not, we are waiting for night to lift its opaque veil so we can see sunlight again. At least I know I am. I don’t especially enjoy nighttime, especially if my thoughts are ridden with worry, fear, and/or anxiety - which is more of a normalcy for me than it should be (but that's a subject for another time). Nighttime. There’s something intimidating about it. The way it squares its shoulders at you, daring you to try to circumvent its stillness, its deafening silence, its appeal to your innermost thoughts, hopes, worries, and fears.

There was always a clarity in the night that scared me worse than anything else. There is very little I can busy myself doing at night to avoid dealing with my mess, my scars, my fears, my wounds.

It came to me that if I really wanted renewal in my life, if I really wanted to be able to start fresh and invite the new - I had to deal with the old. If I wanted to truly experience renewal I had to acknowledge the hurts that still hovered over me and the wounds that still wrecked me.

If I wanted to be real and whole, I couldn’t pretend I wasn't still carrying the weight of things and people long gone from my life. I couldn't pretend I wasn't still suppressing hurt and anger of broken trusts and friendships from college. I couldn't pretend that I don't still struggle with the tormenting thought that maybe, just maybe, I’m NOT good enough; or that I don’t acknowledge how the hurt of a relationship from 10 years ago has informed - even in the smallest way - every relationship I’ve had since.

Something about the darkest and longest nights of our lives yields the greatest futures, greater than we could fathom if we commit to doing the not-so-pretty work. Nothing becomes new, nothing can be revived if the dead parts aren't pulled away to give a fighting chance to what's alive. There is no way but through.

Being totally honest about the things I suppress is that way through if I want to continue to be better, to be new, whole. And not just honest but willing to unpack those ugly parts, the scarred parts, because the truth is, I can write a million poems and nod my head to a million sermons on YouTube and smile in a million folks’ faces but if I haven’t truly stood face-to-face with everything that haunts me, I’m trapped in a prison of my own creation, fronting for a world that will never be able to benefit from my courage to face my hurts and wounds head-on.


I'm excited what is coming my way because I finally understand the gift is not just in newness but in the dirty work it takes to prepare to become new.