“I’ve been remaking my life from the inside out, and I want to invite you into that creative, challenging, life-altering work. It is work of course. It feels, I’d imagine, like adding a basement to a house that’s already been standing for decades. I thought it would be more like adding new shutters, but I’m finding it to be more like lifting up a home and starting to dig, reorienting the very foundation” -Shauna Neiquist “Present Over Perfect”
Four summers ago, I discovered something deeply profound. I woke every morning in a dorm full of girls, tied an apron around my back, greeted hundreds of campers with high fives, served breakfast, wiped tables, took a nap and read a book, served again, peddled up bay view streets, pressed my feet into Long Beach Island sand, returned to serve dinner and took cool evening showers before inhaling deep breaths of friendship during talks at sunset. Repeat everyday for eight weeks.
I learned about building a foundation. I learned my deep need for grounding. I learned that I need a period of time that’s simple, where work is left at work and there is space to be, to love, and to connect.
Thankfully as a teacher, I am blessed with a schedule that allows for summers, a built-in chance at grounding. At our end-of-the-year faculty meeting, my principal told us that as you get older each and every summer seems to go by faster and faster, and what’s important is that we find the things that refresh our souls and enable us to go forward into a new school year. As deeply flawed as my school is at times, I keep hearing my principal’s words all summer. I heard them as I let waves wash over me a few weeks ago on LBI and I hear them as I sit on my porch in the mornings reading The Shack and Present Over Perfect. I learned that summer four years ago, that every year I need a period of time to heal, to restore the passion in my life, a break from the beautiful whirlwind that loving 25 seven and eight year olds can bring.
Do I adjust easily to this slow pace? Absolutely not. Honestly, I often bring a large to-do list into the summer. All the things I couldn’t accomplish during the school year somehow get spilled into my days meant for rest. Learning to slow for me is much like demo day with the Chip and Joanna Gaines. Breaking down all the production that drives my life is painful. It takes me weeks to adjust to summer rhythms.
It’s August now and I’m starting to get those panicky feelings again, the “I didn’t get done everything I wanted to do before the new school year” feelings. And when I get panicky, I start to cram. Cram in this project, or that lesson plan, or planning too many nights out with friends instead of remembering that this season is about slowing, about grounding.
Back in January I picked the word “foundation” for 2017 and it’s only now in my times of quiet that I am realizing what that means. Only by participating in demo day can I begin to rebuild what I want my life to truly be built on. As I wind up my summer, I want to remember the things that I love. To spend my time rebuilding my foundation and dreaming about the new renovations. For me, this has looked like the daily reminder to base my identity on Christ’s love, not on what I can get done each day. May all that I do be done in His power, not that spinning frenzy fueled by the knot in my stomach that I am not enough. The foundation changes the way everything is done. Housework becomes an act of love. Lesson plans for my new school year are invigorated with passion for serving my students. I put the pencil down on my grad school work remembering to stop and check in with my husband about his day.
Each summer I vow somehow to bring a bit of this pace into my school year, bring in this grounding. Maybe in some small way I can this year. If anything, I can be thankful for summer seasons of this soul healing, this grounding and praise God for creating a foundation of unconditional love for my life.
“This crucial journey, then, for me, has been from dependence on external expectations, down into my own self, deeper still into God’s view of me, his love for me that doesn’t change, that will not change, that defines and grounds everything”-Shauna Niequist