What I Learned During the Polar Vortex.


There’s no class in school called, “Surviving -35 degree Windchill 101.” I wish there was though because I really could have used that specific expertise this week. Listen, the magnitude of that cold is just insane. Think about it this way; If you add 60 degrees to -35, it’s still below freezing. Oof.

Alright, so it all began this last Monday. Heavy snow started early in the morning, and the vast majority of schools in the area shut down, but Andrews University stayed open. After about 10 inches or so of snowfall, they too decided to close down. Since my wife Steph and I attend grad school there, we were ecstatic! This is only the second time Andrews has called for a snow day since we’ve lived here, so we decided to enjoy it. We did some homework, caught up on a few TV shows, it was great. We also knew that the dreaded -35 degree windchill was coming on Wednesday and Thursday, so we decided that no matter what Andrews does, we will have our own snow days.




It really do be like that.
It really do be like that.


It really do be like that.


But, surprise! Classes were canceled on Tuesday, too. For the first time ever (based on nothing other than me wanting to use a superlative), I received an email alert that classes were canceled from Tuesday all the way through Thursday at 12:30 pm. My inner child went bonkers. Time to sleep in, eat cereal, and watch cartoons. But then all of a sudden it was 4:00pm and I hadn’t done anything productive. I was stressed. So I psyched myself up and for the rest of the day…I did nothing productive. But even worse, I couldn’t enjoy fun things either.

Enter Wednesday. Day one of the so-called “Polar Vortex.” I’m a weirdo from Texas, so I really like to open my front door and just look at the snow. So with the temperatures as they were, I decided to (I don’t know, ok) look at the air.

That was a mistake.

It was as if a vortex of polar air came from the north and was angrily encapsulating my face. Oh, wait that’s what actually happened. I noped back inside as fast as possible.

Now that that was out of my system, I figured I should plan what I was going to do for the day. By this point, I hadn’t been outside since Monday, and that sounds awesome, but without even so much as a WebMD search, I quickly diagnosed myself with a full-blown case of cabin fever. It’s difficult to describe how it feels to have too much unexpected time off. It was as if time was cheapened because I had so much of it. I hate to admit it, but I yearned for a schedule, for an appointment, for more work, anything to differentiate (just please no more homework).

Stress. Cold. Stress. Repeat.

Thursday arrived. Let me outside! Now, I understand that I certainly should be playing the world’s smallest violin since you probably had to work this whole last week and didn’t have any cold-related breaks. But hear me out.

Steph and I finally decided to force our weekly date night even though it was negative death degrees outside. We drove to a nearby town and walked on a frozen Lake Michigan. We flirted with frostbite, got some stellar pictures, it was great! As we were running back to the car gasping for non-frozen oxygen, I realized at this moment that there’s a time for everything.






For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.

Eccl 3:1

I mean, this has to include “a time for snow days.” But I realized that all too late. I yearned for differentiation, while the whole week I was living a “differentiation” from the normal schedule. I had what I was searching for and it flew over my head.

This week’s time was a gift. It was unexpected, and I squandered it.

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil — this is God’s gift to man.

Eccl 3:12–13

Take it from Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes. I know I wish I had. Taking pleasure in what we’re doing, enjoying our toil, even if it’s different than expected and being joyful is the best way to survive a Polar Vortex.

Jonny has been involved with Enspire Productions since 2009. He is currently enrolled in the MDiv. program at the Andrews University Theological Seminary.