Summer brings hot days spent in the pool. Respite from packed lunches for those families that have children. Late night campfires accompanied by friends and s’mores. Intense laughter that hurts your cheeks and belly, as you swat away yet another mosquito the size of a tennis ball! Watermelon for days on end, because tis’ the season.
Sweat rolls down your face, as you stand in the blazing sun for hours, watching your children play. You probably sweat from places on your body you didn’t know was possible. Likely that it was next to impossible to hear yourself think over the noise all around you. Deep inside you are at war with the nagging feeling that there was something you had to accomplish today.
These are the “lazy days of summer.” Somehow all the days end up being meshed together into one big day. One long day that somehow you missed the opportunity to do things within your usual routine.
Summer truly is one of my favourite seasons. There is just one teeny tiny thing that bothers me. As days seem to slip through our fingers, so do our once well-established routines. Every practice you intentionally implemented comes to a grinding halt. Not necessarily because you intended for that to happen, but that’s the summer vibe.
Last summer we spent a huge amount of time at our park home, which was such a blessing! Though, as the summer progressed I started to feel tired, short-tempered, and generally unfocused. I found my morning devotion time slipping away, due to a very eager two-year-old waking up early! Furthermore, my days consisted of trying to keep everyone happy, especially our little tyrant named “Esmee.”
The attempt to read my bible early in the morning on our park home deck seemed futile. I spent most of my time having to re-read each verse, due to all the interruptions. The dialogue sounded much like this –
“Don’t touch the barbecue, play with your toys”
Esmee screams in frustration.
“Shhhh the neighbors are still sleeping”
“Stay here, you are not allowed to go off on your own”
More screaming from the tyrant.
“If you don’t stop, we will have to go inside”
No reaction, just more defiance, and possibly more screaming.
“Okay, we are going inside”
The attempt to read my bible was over. We’d go back inside, causing the other three kids to wake for the day. Then that was it, another summer day had started, and somehow I was already drained of energy.
In a busy and ever-changing world, the asset of being flexible with our own schedules is detrimental. Though there are times in one’s life when everything gets derailed. Once the train is off the tracks, we have no desire to get back on. Summer is assuredly one of those times, especially for parents. So, how do we remain flexible while keeping true to our daily practices?
Don’t be so uptight, some may say. Summer is only two short months, no big deal if you can’t stick to your routine. You’d be wrong. Fundamentally, we need some sort of routine to stay afloat. I’m referring to the practices that keep you mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy. Those routines that come a close second to showering, feeding yourself properly, and sleeping.
Wow, that’s a radical comparison. I’d like to argue that it’s not such a crazy idea. If you slowly remove these routines from your daily living, there is no doubt that things will start to go south. I speak from experience.
In the book of Daniel, we read about the written decree that King Darius signed. In short, the decree was put in place to stop anyone from worshipping any god or man for a total of thirty days. The rule was that you could only worship/petition King Darius or you’d be thrown into the lion’s den. But chapter 6 verse 10 tells us that Daniel went home and prayed three times that day, just as he always did, despite the new decree.
Shifting into a whole different lesson; we find Martha and Mary hosting Jesus in their home. While Martha is running every which way, Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus. Martha had tasks to complete, unable to be flexible and focus on what was important. Arguably she knew how important Jesus was, thus the reason for the hustle and bustle. Jesus gently voices that instead of being worried about all the things, what she truly needs is only one thing, He was sitting right there.
Daniel and Martha were committed to their daily practices/schedules regardless of their circumstances; but in two entirely different ways. What we should ask ourselves based on these different people is; how do we remain steadfast in our routines, despite what our day or season looks like?
We take time to breathe.
We savor each moment.
We pivot on a dime, moving our daily practices when necessary.
We don’t cancel our practices. Instead, we are flexible and adjust our schedule.
We say NO to the demands of others that are unreasonable and unhealthy.
We remember that we are not capable of doing everything or being at all of the things.
Like Daniel, we stay true to what we know to be good for us, regardless of the demands of others.
We learn from Martha. Things need to get done, but the time we set aside to sit at the feet of Jesus is invaluable.
Most importantly, the things we decide to do should be done with love. If you are unable to do it with love, then you should not do it all.
We sacrifice for the ones we love, but at what expense? So here it is in a nutshell – let’s do the things we can, while maintaining and building on the practices that feed our mind, body and soul.