September comes so quickly every year. It seems that no sooner do we kick back, relax, and enjoy the sunshine (or what little we had this year); we are bombarded with back to school ads and pumpkin spice lattes. Gone are the carefree days of camp and cottages, it’s back to routine, packing lunches and the general busyness that comes with this new season.
I don’t know where you’re coming from. Maybe your summer was relaxing and recharging. Maybe it was exciting and fast paced, or maybe you took things slow. If you’re like me, summer is a chance to break from routine a bit. Take things a bit slower, enjoy fewer weekly commitments, and maybe take some weekends away.
And with these weekends away comes less time at church. I think I was away more weekends in July and August than I have been in a while. And our Covcom took a break for the summer, so I didn’t have the weekly meetings with my Christian community that I had grown to look forward to so much. It would have been easy for this to become a season of spiritual stagnation or backsliding.
But you know what? God used this season of being a little more outside of the “Christian bubble” to bless me and teach me some important lessons. Here are a couple of my main takeaways.
Don’t fear being in the world
As someone who grew up going to church, being involved in church community has always been a part of my life. Sunday School, Youth Group, Covcom, volunteering, hanging out with friends from church…it’s always been pretty central to my life. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s so great to establish relationships and receive encouragement from other members of the body of Christ.
But I think for me, at times that has come at the expense of Christ’s call to be “in the world but not of it.” If we don’t watch out, we can become insular, and less able to relate to the world outside of the church if we become too comfortable inside its walls. Since I was away more often and didn’t have the chance to connect with my Covcom crew, I tried new things. I made connections with friends outside of the church. And you know what? Nothing bad happened. My character wasn’t corrupted. In fact, I learned from my new friends. I may not share a faith connection with them, but they still have a lot they can teach me. I’m secure enough with who I am in Christ that I can take a bit of time away from regular church routines and know that my faith will remain steady.
Fear not…but do something!
I’ve spent a lot of time in my life being afraid. Afraid of trying. Afraid of failing. Afraid of what others would think. I would be unhappy with where I was, praying in earnest for God to answer, to help make a change, but at the same time being paralyzed by fear, unable to move forward. I firmly believe that God wants to bless us, and will often amaze us beyond our wildest dreams. But I also think he wants us to step out and do something. Rather than being our heavenly benefactor, I think God wants to be our partner in crime.
This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to work as a nanny at an organic farm and a winery. I spent my days strolling in the summer sun with a baby, soaking up the beauty of God’s creation (see photos). As if that weren’t enough, I got to take home wine and organic veggies (jealous yet?). As I walked through the fields, I had a smile on my face, thanking God that I was able to spend my days this way.
But this job didn’t just come to me. Through talking with a friend (Carolyn Stone), I created a profile on a website. I looked at jobs that came up, applied, and interviewed. Basically, I did my homework and then God came up alongside me and amazed me with the results.
And while we’re on the subject of jobs, while I was walking the winery, I received a job offer for the fall. It was a job that, given my current situation and career ambitions/desires (combine teaching with freelance translation), couldn’t be a better fit. But here’s the thing: I first had to turn down a job I didn’t want. I received a job offer in June for a job that, in the past, I would have jumped at.
But it just didn’t feel like the right fit for me. Even though I was scared, and worried about what others would think, I turned it down. When I was offered the job I did want, I found out that my name was put forth at least in part due to my reasons for refusing the other job. God waited for me to take a step, then came up beside me and amazed me with how He worked.
So what about you? Are you glad to be back to the routines of fall? Or do you miss the carefree days of summer? How did God amaze you during this past season? Leave a comment and let’s keep the conversation going.