If you don’t know me personally, here’s one thing you should know about me: I’m not one of those amazing, hands-on moms who fills her summer with trips to the pool or the zoo or neighborhood parties. In fact, I’m so NOT a Pinterest-worthy parent that I probably won’t even have time to LOOK at Pinterest all summer. Today is the last day of school. I have approximately an hour and forty-five minutes left of my last solitary, quiet day. And I am not going to spend it making a list of all of our family goals for the summer.
I love my kids. A lot. But ever since I have been working from home (which, incidentally, is the complete lifetime of all three of my children), summers have stressed me out. Everyone who knows me is probably sick and tired of hearing me complain, but here’s the deal. I still have just as much work and just as many deadlines. But in the summer, I have to do those things with a house full of people and the clutter which they bring with them. Yes, I know I chose to bring those people into the world. But what I didn’t know then? That their summer schedules for sports and honors classes would include things like three-times-a-day practices and three-chapters-a-week reading and discussion questions and three classic books complete with papers that need to be written.
In. The. Summer.
I thought summers were supposed to be time off.
If you’re a teacher who assigns such a thing, please know I probably like you very much in person. I just don’t care for this particular approach to summer. At all.
On top of my resentment about other people imposing on my schedules, I find that warmer weather reveals some things that aren’t so pretty. And I’m not talking about jiggly, white thighs. (Although I have those, too.) I’m talking about jealousy.
I believe whole-heartedly and fervently in protecting your skin from the sun. The more tan you are, the more we probably disagree on that issue. And yet I envy all of the smooth, sun-bronzed legs I see. The beach photos. The skinny bodies in bathing suits (I drown out my jealousy by eating more junk food). I’m jealous of all the vacations people go on, because Tim never has much vacation time available, and we can never seem to find more than a couple days at a time to do things as a family. We may go one at a time, but rarely together, and I constantly struggle with resentment for people who have lots of time off.
Then again, wasn’t I just complaining about having to have so much togetherness during the summers?
But really, I know that summer’s not the problem. I am.
Because I have everything I need. And so very much more. I guess my attitude all comes down to this mistaken belief I have that I should get everything I want. That I deserve time off. That I deserve alone time. That I deserve to indulge myself.
Funny, I don’t remember seeing verses about that in the Bible.
True, Jesus insisted on some alone time. But his goal wasn’t to run to Target, to veg out on the couch with a new book, to post perfectly-filtered pictures of his vacation destination on Instagram, or to spend some time at a friend’s pool. When he went to the pool, it was to heal the lame man.
When he went off by himself, it was to get ready to do the next thing God asked of him. If anyone deserved time off, it was Jesus. But it didn’t even come automatically to him. He had to actively, single-mindedly pursue it.
He caught a quick nap in the boat in the middle of a storm. At dinner, alongside the road, when he came down from the mountains, even when he stopped for a drink of water—always there were people with all kinds of needs. He withdrew by boat to a solitary place and the crowds followed him on foot. And he had to ask his disciples specifically to keep watch for him while he prayed in the Garden. He doesn’t get what he asks (or deserves): they fall asleep.
My soul longs for peace, for a sense of calm, for rest. No matter how much I want that, it may not be mine to have. At least not in the way I think it should work. I can absolutely have it—but it doesn’t come from a wide-open calendar or an afternoon off. It comes from him. The sweetest of gifts, offered without reservation:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-29
So the one thing I need to do to find rest has nothing to do with events on my schedule and everything to do with how I fill my time.
As I mentioned earlier, I won’t be making a list of summer adventures for my family to cheerfully pursue. But I will set some priorities, because I’m headed into a season which is always a challenge for me. Just skimming through the Gospels to make sure I have my references right in this post, I feel comforted. So I will find—no, make—time to read the Bible. To complete Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story, a new Bible study by Angie Smith that I’ve started and already love. I’m on day three, and I’ve already uncovered a profound truth about myself by seeing an old Bible story in a new way. I will read Untangled: Let God Loosen the Knots of Insecurity in Your Life, a new book by Carey Scott, which in just the first two chapters has already begun to soothe my soul. And I will write, both here and in my journal. And I will pray, and I will reach out to friends and answer emails from strangers and let loose the love God has given me, spending it freely and widely whenever the opportunity arises.
And in those moments, I will find quiet. In those words, I will rest. In those stories, I will find focus and hope and everything I need to take my next steps, whatever they are. Even if they’re just steps to and from the car as I drive to sports practices and
nag remind my son about his summer assignments.
And I will remember that Jesus took himself to the mountaintop to pray. Nobody did it for him, and no one forced him. He knew what he needed, and he put forth serious effort to make it happen. Because without that time in prayer, he wouldn’t be equipped for his work. Without a strong connection to the Almighty, he was nothing. Until his soul could rest, his body could not.
Oh, how I long for my soul to feel rest. I already feel a stirring of possibility. And instead of collapsing on the couch, suddenly I want to run—straight towards the hope I see on the horizon. I give thanks for what I know is waiting for me. And I’m going to do my darnedest to help myself find what I know I need.
And it’s not going to be in the pile of discarded folders and broken pencils dumped out on the floor next to my son’s backpack.