The phrase jumped clean off the glossy turquoise water covered page and I realized at last what had been bugging me all morning. The popular brand rallies its customers to buy into a belief that life should feel good all the time, easy, breezy and full of color and prosperity.
We like this brand, for the record. We buy some of the products because they wear well and do feel good.
But when we buy into the message, we find out soon that we’ve been duped. Sort of.
Let me share the message, and then how this line of thinking permeates our soul with entitlement that leaves us unable to actually enjoy our lives.
Summer should feel this good
This is the message, and when I finally listened to its full ring, I realized my summer did not feel this good. In fact, only a handful of days ever felt that good. I have had countless good moments in each season, but no season is perfect. Not even summer!
Let me instead paint the glossy picture for what my summer felt like the week the catalog arrived at my door:
We had received news that had sent me flat out on my bed in lament, off and on for days. Our family was again facing hard decisions, and fear jumped out of his cage and unlocked all the other prisoners in my mind. I cried out for Jesus to help bring order to my thoughts around His presence with us and purposes for us. At one point as I sobbed, I could feel a tug in another area of my life — where residue from a conflict nagged at me. I had recently let my anger do the talking and had injured someone. I knew I would need to tend to it after I was done coming undone, and prayed that I wouldn’t stay stuck in shame over it for days or decades like I knew was possible. Then one evening when I went to zip up a new dress I bought for this very special occasion (a dress that fit when I bought it) I realized that I have more learning to do as I practice moving through my emotional needs with truth and grace, and not with extra bites. As I pulled out an old dress, I prayed for help to leave off the old thoughts that once went with it.
Discouragement and defeat rang my doorbell when that catalog arrived, inviting me to a pity picnic outside because, after all — summer “should” feel better than all this here.
Or should it? What does God say summer should feel like now, in 2019?
If we were in the Garden of Eden centuries ago with our forefather Adam and his bride Eve, maybe summer should feel this good, but we aren’t there anymore. A lot has happened since that amazing season of blissful summers.
Today, summer should feel like the rest of the year in our human reality. I don’t say this with a fatalistic doom and gloom tear-drop emoticon though — I say this with the sweat-drop on the head while wearing a wide smile emoticon – because knowing that summer should feel the way summer does feel takes the pressure off of us to make our summer something it simply is not.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. – John 16:33 (NIV)
What if I told you summer is normal and healthy and even, dare I say it — good — even if (no, when) it feels like this:
Each season has its beauty and its broken, and summer is part of the family of seasons where this is still true.
Cancer still gets diagnosed in the summer.
Kids still rebel in the summer.
Adults still disappoint us in the summer.
Money still runs out in the summer.
Rather than put pressure on our season, and on ourselves, to experience life perfectly — what if we receive the season for all of its gifts? The pluses and the minuses, the blessings and the curse, the joy and the grief, all together as part of the treasure box Jesus hands us because inside are rewards of all shapes and sizes?
What if freedom is tucked away in that uncomfortable conversation or situation…and Jesus is positioned to give it to us?
What if promotion is buried under that challenge we are tempted to avoid and put off until Autumn…when Jesus is here, now, and ready to strengthen us?
What if adventure is disguised as boredom, and the stillness holds creative direction for us if we sit in it listening for Jesus’ nudge?
What if something brand new will form out of what seems broken, in this season, because Jesus holds all the tools and skill to share with you?
I don’t know what is possible for this season, for me or for you in it, but I know that we do not sit in our season alone. Ever.
I also know that no one is experiencing a “perfect summer” on this planet. I know because the seasons don’t exist anymore, not in this life. But I’m learning that we have One who lives in real time, in our real needs, with us in each season of our lives who is perfect, and knows what we need when we need it.
As Valerie Woerner admits in her wonderful and practical book, “Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday” (a book I highly recommend for its help with adopting new thoughts toward the broken aspects in any season), the thing standing between our real summer and the summer of our dreams may be us:
I had to face the truth: I simply wasn’t choosing to see the joy in those moments. Lord knows, when I do choose joy, I’m not disappointed.” (page 91)
Summer should feel like any other season, really, at least as far as our souls are concerned.
Our souls don’t live in the changing of the winds, the cycle of the leaves or the rise and fall of the temperatures, but in the unchanging presence of the Creator of all seasons.
Our souls belong in the season of Emmanuel – God with us.
A season that lasts all year long if we stay in it with Him.
If you are looking for a summer read that will point you back to messages that fill you with hope in your season, and provide wisdom for how to weather well, no matter the weather, I’d also like to recommend “Stormproof: Weathering Life’s Tough Times” by my dear friend Carol McCleod — a mentor and wise mother, Bible teacher and wife to her Pastor husband. If you do choose to purchase any of the books I share, please know these are affiliate links which simply means I get a tiny commission off your purchase. This is at no additional cost to you, but just helps a mama keep writing for a living! Bless you.