It has been a different summer.
My first summer in five years not spent in the usual environment has been more challenging than I imagined.
I was used to every night ending with a sunset over a golden lake, every morning beginning with staff devotions, and every day book-ended with chapel services, prayer, and some of the best friends a girl could ask for.
Working full-time this summer, living at home, the days slide by without me even noticing. Eight to twelve hour days leave me exhausted. I come home and collapse on my bedroom floor, glad I can wiggle out of my clothes and lie in a quiet room, ready for sleep. Other nights I lie awake, staring out at the night sky, dreaming of camp fires, little faces meeting Jesus for the first time, friendship bracelets smelly from lake water.
I’m so, so blessed to be near to two best friends this summer, one who is normally a few hours away and the other who has been traveling out in the big world. There are little kids in my life, babies I get to snuggle. I spend Saturdays at the beach and make pies in the kitchen once the afternoon heat fades away. Salsa and chips and watermelon seem to be my summer diet. Life is good.
But what has continued to challenge me, even as I get used to my new surroundings is the realization that God is truly harder to find this summer than previous summers. Though previous summers spent at bible camp were fast-paced and brought me to a new level of exhaustion, He seemed closer at camp, more easy to talk to, connect with. When I sit down at home with bible, journal, coffee, and wide open space – I feel like I’m communicating with the air, talking to myself.
He seems more hidden, out of reach when the stars get faint and hum of cars passing at night silence the buzzing mosquitoes. Days go by and suddenly I’ve barely prayed, my bible has stayed closed on the nightstand.
I am so thirsty. Yearning to be close to Jesus but feeling ashamed to call out His name. Years of people pleasing and believing that disobeying meant you disappointed has left me fearful of letting God down.
I have sent up those little prayers (and meant them); thanks for food, friends, this beautiful day. But I’m terrified to sit down and talk to Him. Terrified of what He’ll say, what He really thinks of me. Too scared to have the honest conversations with Him, to hear what He has to say, to work at our relationship. Because there, in the back of my mind (isn’t it always there?) is that doubt that whispers…it’s too far gone, it’s not important, just laugh it off.
So, here I am, halfway through the summer, the “easy, breazy days,” and I feel distant from God. He doesn’t seem accessible. He’s gone fishing for the whole summer and I’m left standing here, afraid to knock on the door – when really, He’s right beside and He’s supporting me every day in ways I don’t even know.
It makes me feel weak. I know I don’t need that environment to be with Jesus. But I hadn’t counted on how much I depended every year on going to my little home in the woods up North to be reconnected with God.
When you are worried about disappointing someone with your actions or thoughts or words, you are left frozen. Afraid to move in any direction. So, I’ve stayed put this summer, in my faith.
A beautiful friend told me this week that a garden will grow up around me wherever God plants me. Where God has me is building character, perseverance, and an understanding of what true joy is regardless of circumstance.
I’m learning to be gentler on myself. To breathe more. To sit in silence and know that God is with me; I don’t have to say anything. I am beyond thankful for the people in my life that God is using and speaking through this summer.
I’m not fixed or finished. I’m not satisfied or ready to settle. I’m still scared and unsure of what these next days and weeks will look like as I chart a new course.
I don’t have any answers after writing this or some memorable quote to make it all sound pretty. I do know my past experiences and the stories I have told and the beauty that lies in every single person around me because of their creator. I do know that He is working and growing me in ways that I couldn’t dream of.
I am exhausted and worried and a mess, but (but!) I am ready to be sharpened and pressed and molded into a stronger, wiser woman. It’s a tiny step forward, but it’s a step.
I don’t doubt your sovereignty
I doubt my own ability to
Hear what you’re saying
And to do the right thing
And I desperately want to do the right thing
But right now I don’t hear so well
And I was wondering if you could speak up