You are so sweet to me. You hold many of my favorite memories in my favorite place on this entire planet. You also happen to be the middle name of my little brother. You are the predecessor to my favorite season and continually mark the beginning of a new school year. I like you a whole lot.
Since I was three months old, my family and I have been traveling to Door County, Wisconsin each summer to relax and recharge. Door County is the upper peninsula of the state, a sliver of land wedged between the glistening waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan. It takes about twenty minutes to drive from one side to the other, birch trees outnumbering the population of year-round locals. The sky never ends.
I had two goals while on vacation this year: active rest and finish Shauna Neiquist's new read, Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living. The two compliment one another quite nicely.
It's been a difficult year for me so far. I didn't realize how much I needed this vacation until it neared the end, but boy, was it needed. I clutched tight to my sacred vacation days so I could use the majority of them all at once. Leading up to my time away, I most looked forward to the following:
- Taking a mid-morning run along my favorite running path, Lake Michigan peeking through the crevasses of lake house windows and clusters of trees.
- Driving up the peninsula just after the sun has set, inconceivably both light and dark.
- Waking up at 6am with my dad to drive the country backroads and take pictures (and, of course, breakfast to follow).
- Sitting-with-my-eyes-closed-music-in-my-ears type of rest.
More than anything, I looked forward to feelings more than activities. I looked forward to not feeling alone or stressed or tired. I looked forward to having someone else make the decisions. I looked forward to sitting and listening. I looked forward to praying to God with a clear mind and heart.
Shauna has a way of saying what many cannot, with both grace and a helpful dose of candor. I'm thankful for female leaders who inject vibrant truth into our world of not-quite-good-enough. She talks about the discipline of leaving things undone in order to tend to her soul and spirit. This might mean completing a project at work or your dirty dishes or that coffee date you promised a week back. About four years ago, she found the way she was living did not line up with the values she held for her life. She was weary and unmotivated and cold. I've made progress in the past month or so to move out of this state of living, but I know what she means all too well. An excerpt from her new book:
"People called me tough. And capable. And they said I was someone they could count on. Those are all nice things. Kind of. But they're not the same as loving, or kind, or joyful. I was not those things.
And I was so depleted I couldn't even remember what whole felt like. I felt used up by the work, but of course it was I who was using the work, not the other way around. I was using it to avoid something, to evade something. I was using it to prevent myself from becoming acquainted with the self who sat hidden by all the accomplishment. I wanted to get to know that person, make friends with her. I wanted to learn to beckon out from behind the accomplishment, and, when the wind piped up, take her off to sea."
I want to reacquaint myself with the calm, confident in how she was created, joyous and content woman the Lord intended me to be. I miss her. I think she's been lost in the shuffle, intermixed with competition and expectation (even when I would say it's not so).
Shauna mentions many of us try to live at a faster pace and higher complexity than God created us to live. This is the question she hopes every reader will ask, "God, who did you make me to be in this season? How can I quiet the expectations of others and just listen to you?"
I'm currently working on answering this question as honestly as possible in the hope I will be uprooted and replanted. It's taken me quite some time to say this desire out loud, but I'm here and I'm saying it.
Moving into this season, I think the Lord is going to surprise me with His providence and love. I'm ready to take a step forward. Because when you take care of yourself, you're ultimately saying 'I am enough.'
Cheers to the end of summer!