Summer is just around the corner! In our little neck of the woods, the school year comes to a close this Friday. After an unprecedented number of snow days, this week marks the beginning of months of warm weather, long days and a very different schedule from the usual.
You can sense the anticipation of the summer months. From stores and commercials to summer programming, the influences are everywhere. Smiling children splashing in the pool. Happy families on vacation. Leisurely evenings around the firepit. It all looks so idyllic. In truth, the advertising and anticipation we have around summer reminds me a lot of the pressure that can exist around Christmas. There is the excitement of all we are looking forward to and hoping for and yet, there often seems to be an underlying worry about the days ahead.
As summer approaches we start to wrangle our summer schedules. We worry about who will provide childcare if we are working or worry about the stress of too much togetherness if we are home. We bust out our three-month calendars and begin to fill in vacations, day trips, and the summer sports schedules. We consider if the kids are going to go to this VBS or that one, if art camp is worth the cost and then try our level best to leave in some downtime because, after all, isn’t relaxation what summer is all about?!
We all plan for this transition to summer. We plan because it makes us feel better. Don’t get me wrong, it is smart to plan for your summer but it is also silly to think that is going to alleviate every problem. And so, in an effort to save our summer sanity I wanted to share two thoughts I hope may provide some freedom and direction for the months ahead. Here we go.
Step 1: Repeat after me. “This summer will not be perfect.”
Sweet Mom or Dad or Grandparent, I release you from planning the perfect summer. These days are not magic and they do not hold any more weight than any other days of the year. Some are going to be wonderful and some are going to be a mess. Some days everyone is going to get along and some days folks are going to rub each other the wrong way. You are going to go to the zoo and every animal will cooperatively show up and your child will be delighted and you are going to go to the fair where your kid will lose her balloon and drop her ice cream cone. Your job is not to craft the perfect summer. You are not a hero if your summer is great and you are not a failure if this summer is a bust. Your job is to love people in the middle of whatever this summer becomes. Plan to be present in all of it.
Step 2: Ask Jesus what He wants for your summer.
This is, literally, the first time I have ever stopped to ask Jesus what He wants for the summer. For my children’s summer. For my family’s summer. It’s not as though I intentionally ignored this concept before I have just always thought about the summer as “mine.” It is my time to relax, my time to do what I want with my schedule, my kids, my family, my precious summer days. I somehow forgot the summer is His too. I have absolutely no idea what He will do with our summers when we ask but I do know it will be better than anything we could have manhandled ourselves. Invite Him into your summer vacation, look at your calendar with Him by your side, consider the plans for your children with His guidance. Include Him. Ask Him. See what a summer with Jesus is like.
This summer your job is to embrace the idea that you are human and flawed, and your summer will be too. And to remind ourselves, once again, that any perfection that comes is from Him and Him alone, the giver of all good things. Happy summer dear reader.
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)