Sunday, July 24, 2016

Letting Grace Into Your Summertime

Oh my goodness, Summer! I love summertime. Fresh berries. Pools with the smell of suntan lotion. Lazy breakfasts. Evening little league games and catching fireflies at dusk.

Just as much as I love all of the above, I also need to accept the all that comes along with my summer time loves -- overtired children, sunburns, bug bites and sibling squabbles. Oh, the sibling squabbles...the struggle is VERY REAL around here!

I was going to write about our recent summer vacation to the beautiful mountains in Utah. Scratch that. Then I was going to write about the good fruit the spirit produces and how we need to take captive our thoughts so we can grow that great fruit...yada, yada, yada.

Those ideas are all great jumping off points for future blog posts but the truth is I’m too tired to write it all. My thoughts run around in a loop of ideas and run-ons but since summer is happening all around me, the time and energy to write everything down is few and far between.

All I really know is this: summer time brings lots of highs and lots of lows--and it's perfectly okay to live with both. 

I read this quote recently--on vacation, no less, which is exactly when I needed to read it:

"I fall into the trap of just wanting people to behave instead of loving them right where they are." 

(This is by Sophie Hudson, by the way, in her new book, Giddy Up, Eunice. She and her book, her blog and her podcast are hilarious.)

Ummm, that would be me. I work hard at getting everyone to behave correctly, to not whine, be grateful, cheer up, it will all be okay, and please, use your fork--not your fingers, that I forget that it's not all about outward behavior.

Yes, good manners are a good intention but sometimes it's okay to have all the feels, to melt down and give in to that cookie because it really will make everything better.

I'm not advocating lax parenting and giving in to all our feelings. Not at all. I am just saying that I need to work on acknowledging the feelings and giving grace and love to the feeler of said feelings.

So, for example, if everyone feels a bit tired because of an early morning flight, a time change and adjusting to dry-mountain air, it's perfectly okay to feel a bit cranky. I'm just saying if that did happen. Which it did. Very much so.

I don't know about you but I need the reminder that I don't need to fix them or the situation right away. Or, jump on anyone with admonitions or lectures. My reactions don't make the best lectures           anyway.

Sometimes you just have to ride the wave of crankiness, allow it to happen. Then wait for grace to take its place. Our best moments of growth, spiritual or character-building, happen when grace was allowed room to grow. And when grace is allowed room, love is always right behind. 

This summer, I'm learning grace comes in many different forms. It takes the shape of humor or a joke to make the situation feel lighter. It comes as hugs and hand-holding when someone is not acting very huggable. It comes as a tissue to wipe away tears as we make up silly stories to get our mind off our troubles.

The shape of grace I like the most is time. Time to allow the spirit to work, allowing feelings to rest and the real reasons to unfold. Because aren't feelings just the outward sign of something deep within anyway?

And the best way to deal with the feelings that run down deep is to allow time for the spirit to work. The spirit is the only one who knows and understands those feelings most intimately. A lot better than we do.

Later we can work on manners and kindness and forgiveness and all sorts of traits we want to see grow. But if grace and love don't happen first, somehow, everything else just ends up as a lecture. And lectures are a rocky soil that don't grow the fruit we're looking for. 

Trust me, I've learned this firsthand. I'm still learning it.

So, let's let summer happen. The good, the ugly and all the feelings in between. Let's remember that good outward behaviors aren't the only goal. And, most importantly, let's allow room for grace and love to happen.

© Katie Landers
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