Landing the Plane from Summer
Summer is always such an interesting season. In theory, it promises things like rest, renewal, and time to slow down, pause, and restore. And if I stop long enough to pay attention to the unspoken expectations that run around in my head and heart when I think about the summer months, they are usually go something like:
➡️ When summer is over, I will feel refreshed.
➡️ When summer is over, I will have all of the piled up projects on my desk done.
➡️ Our vacation this summer will be really restful.
➡️ This summer, by staying up late, watching more movies than normal, eating desserts often, and thinking French fries and ice cream are two of the basic food groups, I will feel restored, refreshed, and like myself once again once school starts.
➡️ This summer, even though all of my kids are home, nobody is in school, everyone is in a different stage and season of life, and no one can pack, unpack, run errands, or get ready for any sort of overnight camp, day camp, or even thought about camp without mom heavily involved, our days will footloose and fancy free this summer.
➡️ Even though I have teenagers who love to stay up late and an eight year old who loves to get up early, I will have lots of time by myself this summer to refuel and recharge.
I mean, really? Am I a moron? Or just so desperate by the end of May for some R&R that I really think summer will be a restful season even when all four kids are home and need help every step of the way to be semi-productive, non-eye-rolling human beings?!
So now that it’s August and the end of summer is almost here, let’s be realistic for a moment.
If your summer was anything like mine in real life, not mine in my end-of-May-fantasy-life, you are entering August:
- With some great memories
- With a lot of dirty laundry
- A little frazzled
- Full of dairy and gluten
- Ready for everyone to get the heck out of your house and back into school
- Ready for structure and rhythm once again
So how do we prepare the plane for a smooth landing at the end of the summer before launching into fall?
I re-read Andrew Murray’s book Humility and came across a quote I haven’t thought about in a long time:
“Let us look at every person who annoys or agitates us, as God’s means of grace, God’s instrument for our purification, for the working out of the humility Jesus our Life breathes within us.”
Whatever happened in your summer or my summer, we need to bring under the banner of this truth: Everything in our lives that happens, everything in our day that unfolds, has great power and potential in it to be God’s instrument of purification in our lives. He uses everything, and I mean everything, to push us towards relational intimacy with Him and intimacy, for His good purposes, with other people.
We can either let the things about our summer that did not go the way we planned or that rubbed us the wrong way or the grumpy attitudes of our children or of our very own hearts push us into even greater dependence on God or greater dependence on ourselves.
When we push through the tiredness or frustration of whatever occurred over the summer and lean into dependence on God, what follows is peace and trust and ultimately, thankfulness, on the other side.
But if we give into the tiredness or frustration or even the anger of the moment and push right past God, angry that our kids are ungrateful, or our schedules are off, or our plans did not go as expected, we only end up entangled in even deeper knots of irritability and frustration than before.
The greatest moments of peace have come this summer when I’ve remembered that “All shall work together for good; everything is needful that [God] sends; nothing can be needful that He withholds” (John Newton).
This can pertain to big moments like missing a trip because of sickness or injury or it can pertain to small moments like your dog diarrheaing all over your daughter’s bed, your bedroom carpet, and your white rug and playroom couch on the week three of your children are at camp and you were looking forward to some peace and quiet and space to catch up on life (let’s just say my dog is lucky to still be alive).
When you feel anger rising and you find yourself struggling with things you didn’t want to be doing, or maintaining joy when you managing daily interruptions, bad attitudes, late bedtimes, early mornings, or dogs that diarrhea, before the scales tip and the angry words come out, stop. Pause. Walk away. Lock yourself in the bathroom. Take deep breaths. And remember, “This moment, God, this moment, is an instrument of purification in my life. I don’t have to lose it, or even hold it all together, I can let go of it and entrust it into Your hands. I can be quiet until I can say whatever words I need to say, even if they are disciplinary words, with kindness. I can trust that the person in front of me is more important than the task on my agenda, and I can trust that everything that touches my life is an instrument of purification in Your hands.”
Summer may have looked differently than we thought – but what we can know is that God will use all of it for depth of relationship with Him and restored relationship with others as we entrust our moments, our interruptions, our attitudes, our children, our co-workers, our spouses, and our people, into His hands.
Happy end of summer, and happy almost-back-to-school-fall.
Let’s land the plane well; a new season is coming.
To help you process things from your summer that didn’t go the way you hoped or planned, download my free tool Remember and Rebuild: A Guide for Praying Through the Past. It was designed to help us process our very real hurts before our very real and good God.