By CHRIS BATES
Everything is different when the world around you is frozen. This past hunting season, we experienced several dawns of frozen ground, water and air. It can be invigorating, and the earth lets you know you’re alive, since you have an awareness of the fact that it can truly be dangerous. It seems you pay a bit more attention to your steps while wading through the water and the fragility of life. We take every precaution against hypothermia, communicate with one another, and make sure we have a plan for safety.
The animals and the ground behave differently too. Birds and bugs move into slivers of sunshine and nestle together for warmth. Each breath produces moisture and makes the breeze visible. The harshness of it, though, is that the ground and water become hard, and nothing grows or moves. Much of life has to simply pause and survive.
Life can become frozen too. It can be a job that feels like a dead end, or a relationship that seems more like a fence than a boat ride. Health issues, financial struggles, addiction, parenting challenges and even geography can be yokes keeping us in place, feeling frozen or unable to move.
Our inclination is often to tackle the symptoms. Surely it will feel better with this job change, or by finding a new person to connect with. These pills that the doctor prescribed to make the pain go away today are the answer, or maybe moving locations will change the outlook. While sometimes changes in environment or habit are needed, they most often are not going to the roots of larger life patterns that restrain us. The path forward is not always about trying to unfreeze the earth around us, but it is far more about how we thrive where we stand.
I vividly remember packing my old two-door 4Runner with most of what I owned and driving out of my college town. I had failed out (again) and burned up a great relationship, several friendships and many opportunities. I just knew that a move across the country to Oregon would fix my lostness. A few years later, I looked back and realized I’d dragged my chains there with me, and that the geographic Band-Aid did not fix the core issues that were gripping me like ice shackles. Those core issues had to be dealt with first, with lots of help, in order to begin moving in new directions. God saw fit that help would come, but I had to do my part to get unfrozen. The real work was to happen from the inside out.
The book of James of is a favorite because it’s largely about taking action. It’s one of many places in the Word that tell us how to become unfrozen. James 4:8 begins with, “Come near to God and He will come near to you,” and it makes sense that we must take the first step toward Him. From there, the resources are many to help us continue to surrender, get to the roots of our troubles, and find new paths. Church, small groups, therapy, 12-step programs and accountability groups are but a few of the tools we can use to stop doing patch work and start doing real work.
The most essential element to moving away from being stuck and mired is knowing we can’t do it alone. We never have to be alone, because God’s promise is that He is always there. By using His strength and connecting with others, we can find His grace and a newness that we never imagined.
Chris Bates is CEO and co-founder of AgoraEversole a full-service marketing agency in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraEversole.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.