The sun is shining, the weather has warmed. Poor Mrs. McSmith cannot keep her pupils in line. They are shooting spitballs, jumping off their desks, and talking out of turn; when they are quiet, they appear to be in a daydream daze. Do the kids need more Ritalin? Probably not. It might merely be a case of “Spring Fever.”
As we say goodbye to Winter and hello to warmer weather, we find a price tag for this transition: Spring Fever. But what is this mystery disease?
An Associated Press article (which appeared in the Kokomo Tribune way back on March 20th of 1987) enlightens us:
Malaise, romance, and even depression are among the reactions to these seasonal changes—although spring fever has been most widely identified with that vague feeling of disinterest, mind-wandering, and restlessness… . Some studying the human reaction to weather changes define spring fever as an increased interest in things other than work.
When I first entered the ministry back in 1979, it did not take long to notice a remarkable surge in activity around Spring (usually reaching a zenith about mid-April). The counseling load got out of hand, married couples began arguing or complaining of discontent, and people were doggedly determined to make changes (sometimes for the better, more often for the worse).
I concluded that Spring Fever is first and foremost a matter of discontent. Folks have been cooped up all winter, and they are not going to stand for the same old same old (the other core symptom of Spring Fever is a demanding attitude).
Suicide levels are unusually high in the Spring; so are out of wedlock conceptions. Long associated with Spring is the craving for romance (and an increased discontent within marriages that are not perceived as romantic enough).
I feel Spring Fever myself. It’s fifty degrees, and I am driving on SR 22, heading west into the country. It’s time to turn off, but I just want to keep driving! I can feel the Spring weather playing with my emotions. I too must fight the drive to be discontented and demanding. Even though I minister to people, I am humbly reminded that my membership card to the human race is still valid.
In our church’s past, we welcomed an inexperienced assistant pastor (who was also a trained counselor) to our staff. I warned him of this escalation of people-helping situations in Spring; he was skeptical. Yet, within a year or two, he became a firm believer and advocate of my “Spring Rush” theory. Counselors, personnel managers, and the rest of us categorized as “people helpers” need to brace ourselves. The brisk pace that should already be underway will soon be at a feverish pitch! Yikes! But that’s why we people-helpers are here.
I also noticed that when February is unusually mild, the “rush” reaches it zenith a month earlier (around March 15), thus convincing me that Spring Fever is most certainly weather-related. The pharmacologists, brain chemists, and other authorities have their plausible theories, but the bottom line is that we are most volatile in the Spring – for whatever reason. So how do we handle this Spring volatility? Here is my advice.
First, avoid making important decisions in the Spring. If it is a good idea on March 15, it will be a good idea on June 15. Postpone saying yes to major change. And whatever you do, don’t confuse your emotions with “a leading from God.” If I believed what people told me (but I don’t), God has directed individuals to do some pretty strange, sinful, and foolish things over the years! Isn’t there something about taking God’s name in vain?
Second, if you need counseling, seek it. In a way, Spring brings out what is wrong or disappointing in marriages, friendships (or lack thereof), employee/employer relationships, etc. Jot down your frustrations this Spring, but continue to address them year long, even during your saner moments. Otherwise you will repeat yourself next year with even more baggage.
Third, stop nurturing discontent. Everyone feels cheated when they focus upon frustrated expectations. This is no time of year to start comparing your spouse to that of another (again, isn’t there something about coveting your neighbor’s spouse?), to determine to quit your job and teach your boss a lesson, or to obligate yourself to responsibilities you cannot realistically maintain.
Fourth, face how ugly it is to have a demanding attitude. Start asking, stop demanding. Demanding people are destined to be lonely people.
Fifth, seek the deeper meaning of life. I personally believe that human discontent is God’s reminder that there is something more to life than just existing and using up time. Even good relationships can’t fill that void.
Survive Spring fever as a victor, not a casualty.
Ed Vasicek was raised as a Roman Catholic in Cicero, Illinois. During his senior year in high school (1974), Cicero Bible Church reached out to him, and he received Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone. Ed earned his BA at Moody Bible Institute. He has served as pastor of Highland Park Church since 1983. Ed and his wife, Marylu, have two adult children. Ed has written many weekly columns for the opinion page of the Kokomo Tribune, published articles in Pulpit Helps magazine, and posted many papers at his church website. Ed has also published the The Midrash Key and The Amazing Doctrines of Paul As Midrash: The Jewish Roots and Old Testament Sources for Paul’s Teachings.