How to Receive Your Own Summer Life

  pink flower

How’s your summer going? If that feels like a loaded question, this post is for you.

We think summer is all about freedom, but then we’re bothered because this lazy season doesn’t it take a break from comparison, envy, and unrealistic expectations. I know it’s not just me because occasionally I get out and talk to people.

We don’t all have community pools, live in idyllic neighborhoods, or pass the days on a family homestead dotted with gurgling brooks and bunnies. We may not have any accessible watering holes. We may not live in a neighborhood. We may have zero budget for vacations.

Summer can sure mess with our gratitude, especially when we’re bombarded with the realities of everyone else’s seemingly better summer. “Oh, you went to Belize? How lovely. We went to our local lake one day where I fished a used diaper, a Lunchables container, and the plastic part of a needle out of the murky water all in the same outing.” {True story from when my kids were little.}

I remind myself that one never knows the truth behind the Facebook or Instagram photos. Remember how our summer kicked off with a celebratory lunch turned complicated mess? I could have taken a super cute family selfie on said trip to Chick-Fil-A, all of us smiling as we launched Summer 2016 with ice cream and happy togetherness. You would have thought, “Those Vischers. Look how much they love each other.”

The real story is a sketchy parking lot on the way to Chick-Fil-A, peace negotiations within the confines of my minivan, and a mom who was so ticked off, she almost drove home and let everyone eat microwave popcorn for lunch. “Happy First Day of Summer Kids! Here’s some kernels coated with chemical butter to help you celebrate!”

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I’ve been writing and even speaking about this thing of “receiving your own life” for a long time. But lately I feel as though I’ve regressed all the way back to kindergarten. This makes me feel like a fraud. Also? It’s frustrating.

For my most recent birthday, a dear friend stamped these words on a bracelet for me: “Receive My Life.”

receive my life bracelet

She had no idea how much I’d need it this summer as I ache with invisible scars and fight for gratitude as though my life depends on it.

Because my life does depend on it. And so does yours.

In many ways, we’re having a great summer. We’re not getting a house ready to sell like Summer 2014. We’re not buying and selling a house like Summer 2015. We’re not sprinting after toddlers who can’t swim like Summers 2001-2012. My kids can feed and entertain themselves while I work from home. The guys have golfed a lot and my girl and I have watched Netflix together like it’s our job.

This summer provides enough commitment to keep us in a routine but enough downtime to sink into a lazier rhythm. Plus I have a screen porch.

It has been lovely in so many ways.

But beneath the lovely there is still junk. Plus a rogue arrow of envy that has come out of left field and pierced my heart something fierce. “Summer, why won’t you give me a two-month break from what ails me and leave me on my porch with house magazines and cold beverages?”

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But summer hasn’t given me a break from the brokenness of the world around me or the brokenness of the world within me.

Instead, summer gives me a choice: open my hands to receive it all as grace or keep my fists clenched, shaking them at God and others.

I don’t always make the right choice.

Here’s what I’m still learning the hard way. You can spend your seconds turned minutes turned years wishing for a life that isn’t yours, making yourself and everyone else miserable in the process. Or you can choose to receive the beauty, provision, and even heartache of your actual life. I have a million things to be grateful for. I simply forget. And so do you.

There are things we shouldn’t have to receive, situations that it’s okay to fight against. I’m not talking about being a doormat; I’m talking about accepting that which we can’t really change — the baggage, the fallout, the limitations, the people — as we walk the path of healing, acceptance, and possibility.

I make it sound easy but let’s be honest; it’s war. Every day my real life — with all of its brokenness, lack, fear, and questions — puts up a fight and goes to war with my contentment.

And so I fight.

exercise ball
  • Sometimes that means I avoid certain people and places on the internet. Because even though I know there’s no perfect, certain things are just too much for my fragile spirit.
  • Sometimes that means I pour all of the brokenness into a journal so that my mind and heart have more space to receive the everyday gifts.
  • Sometimes that means I scrawl out my edited thoughts in this online space, pressing publish and blowing words into the world like the seeds of a dandelion, hoping they’ll land in the meant-to-be places.
  • Sometimes that means I pray. And sometimes it means that others pray for me because I am fresh out of energy to articulate my lament.
  • Sometimes that means I stop what I’m doing and eat from the word of God. Otherwise I walk around spiritually anemic, wondering why I’m so cranky and angry without an ounce of perspective. “Oh yes, I’ve forgotten to eat. No wonder I’m thinking and talking and acting like a crazy person.”
  • Sometimes that means I simply keep living, doing the next thing and not letting the hard stuff of my own life or the envied goodness of others’ lives define me.

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This season invites me to slow down, to enjoy my people, to rest in the undone, and to make time for beauty.

sofa on screen porch

But as I’ve learned from prior seasons of rest — sometimes when we slow, the stuffed-down grief rises to the surface. It’s only June but summer is already reminding me {for the hundredth time} that life is a broken + beautiful mashup, that it’s okay to live in the tension because I’m not alone. I have Jesus, my friend who is no stranger to living in the tension. Jesus, who feasted with dearest friends one night while being led to his death soon after.

I tell him how I feel because He knows. I quit trying to fix broken things because I’m too tired and besides, that’s his job.

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This feels like a heavy post for summer. I wish I could share with you a fun recipe for fruity drinks or 10 Ways to Make This Your Best Summer Ever. But this is the true state of things and to give you anything else feels duplicitous.

Instead, I tell you that it’s okay to laugh with your friends one minute and cry into your iced coffee the next. To receive the slower pace while you also seek healing for wounds that won’t stop hurting.

In both fresh and familiar ways, this summer invites me to “receive my own life,” to etch hopeful patterns in my troubled mind and anxious spirit, even as I enjoy my kids and my porch and sleeping in.

Maybe summer is inviting you to do the same? To receive your own unique season of parenthood, your own summer plans {or lack thereof}, your own summer budget, your own real disappointments, your own real life.

And because I’m not going to Belize or doing anything impressive, I’ll be right beside you in all my ordinary, real-life glory.

you may also enjoy

When Life is a Broken + Beautiful Mashup

Choose Life, Even When It’s Falling Apart

When Summer Gives You Crazy and You Give It Right Back


 

I’m all about helping you recapture the possibility of your right-now life.

If that sounds like something you need, sign up in the box below to receive fresh hope and possibility delivered to your inbox no more than a couple of times a week.

insta collage

{P.S. I’ll be hanging out on Instagram this summer. Join me?}

 

Comments

  1. says

    This is all so very true. I too look at my current state of affairs and feel frustrated instead of grateful. I don’t have any diapers to change or toddlers to mind, but now I feel angry that my kids want to stay up until 9, which leaves me no “me time” in the evenings, which is what always got me through the long summer (and winter) days. So hard to embrace where you are at in this moment, receive it, and count it grace. I am working alongside you sister.

  2. says

    Oh how I needed to hear your words today. I feel the same way. Summer and my life is flying by at the speed of light and I grasp onto God with my fingernails, trying to hold onto contentment and gratitude. Trying to belive I’m raising teenagers that will live for him and be able to handle this world. But there are days I feel I fail so miserably. Photography isn’t fun. The kids have to be in a million places and we once again have no idea where they will be in school next year. All the schools are talking about colleges and the kids seem to lose their last two years of HS because they all want scholarships and they talk in as manner that truly makes me feel every bit of 51 years old.

    I miss my old friends. The ones that gave me hugs and brought me wine or coffee. I miss my mom and my dad. I miss the way life used to be. That pretty picture I have painted in my head. Life feels hard. I want to exude joy, instead I truly want to crawl in a hole and everyone leave me alone.

    Summer isn’t all rosy here either. Wounds I don’t even know exist rise to the surface. I try to balance the world. And then I give up. I fall in a blubbering ball of tears and go off my eating plan and stuff my face with that popcorn you talked about or a bag of marshmallows or I don’t eat at all. I think back to my summers as a child when life felt so simple.

    And I am reminded that God’s got this. You remind me. Victory Over the Darkness reminds me. And that still, small voice reminds me. As I claw my way back to that voice through the trenches, tears, scars and battle wounds I know He really does love me more than ever and He’s got this.
    He’s got this.
    He’s got this.

    I just need to let Him.

    I miss you terribly.
    me

  3. Lisa says

    “Receive my life”…oh, how I love that! Your gift of putting into words how I feel is nothing short of amazing. I don’t think you’ve ever written a post I can’t relate to in some way. From the heart of a North Carolina neighbor, THANK YOU. Your writing is like that first cup of morning joe..good for the soul!

  4. says

    Oh dear lady. This was so for me. I have no problems, truly. But things feel so heavy in the world. I wish for so many things. I had no idea until I read this that what I needed was someone to say, “It’s ok to feel the burden.” So thank you for that. For this dose of “It’s not just you.” Bless you for that.
    The Other Marian

  5. says

    I hear you, summer is hard. After feeling really weary this half of the year and longing for the end of the schedule I know that when the kids are home for it will be hard. It still remains to be seen whether our family will be able to get away on a break and I’m not looking forward to spending all that time at home. This post is beautiful.

  6. Tammy Gonzalez says

    “Sometimes that means I simply keep living, doing the next thing and not letting the hard stuff of my own life or the envied goodness of others’ lives define me.” These words–your entire post, in fact–spoke volumes to my soul today. I’m so glad I discovered your writing via the link shared by Emily Freeman.

  7. says

    Marian! Sweet bench friend of mine, I cannot tell you how much re-reading this today on this semi-dreary muggy Sunday soothed my soul. Thank you for writing the real as you say & speaking right to my heart. I also forwarded this to a few friends & hope all my people can learn from you today as well. xo

Trackbacks

  1. […] “Sometimes that means I stop what I’m doing and eat from the word of God. Otherwise I walk around spiritually anemic, wondering why I’m so cranky and angry without an ounce of perspective. “Oh yes, I’ve forgotten to eat. No wonder I’m thinking and talking and acting like a crazy person.”” – Marion Vischer (How To Receive Your Own Summer Life) […]

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