Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Why I Hate Summer (at least, Why I Hate This Summer)

 I knew this summer was going to be full. Between the congregation I serve going through disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church, our house renovation project moving forward (with some fun summer surprises), two small kids, the busyness of summer on Chebeague, and the first "post-pandemic" summer (ha!), there wasn't going to be a lot of time to stop and breathe. Certainly no margins for error in our delicate family balance.

What I didn't anticipate was the toll on my body and my spirit from Annual Conference this year (and how that experience basically left me without a faith community or denominational home...I will write about that one day) and the waves of anxiety that come up without warning and render me having to work hard to even swallow.

I didn't anticipate Ben getting appendicitis and having emergency surgery at the end of July. (A huge amount of gratitude for everyone who carried us through these past couple weeks as Ben recovers. The surgeon said one more week and he should be fine to do just about everything again).

And in the midst of one of our busiest weeks, where we had planned to go out for dinner together for the first time since March 2020 to celebrate our 14 year anniversary, I didn't plan on my youngest catching the stomach bug that has been making the rounds, thus upending our Fancy Dinner Plans (not to mention the juggling and shuffling of work that happens when there's a sick kid).

The thing is, most people I know around here are having heavy summers as well. So many of us are just making it as best we can through the shit that has cropped up - whether that is the uncertainty of personal health issues, the anxiety of rising COVID cases, the weight of what’s happening in our world, and everything in between. We’re all just carrying a lot these days - we were carrying a lot going into this summer season, and it has continued to pile on.

Reading Nadia Bolz-Weber’s most recent piece at The Corners helped put a lot in perspective for me. That, and the constant jettising of extraneous bits of commitments and the general right-sizing of the expectations I am placing on myself (by which I mean, I’m lowering my standards), and trying to get a better sense of what my actual capacity is these days. It’s always been challenging to find a healthy rhythm and flow between “Pastor Hat” and “Spouse hat” and “Parent hat” and “Insert-Hat-of-Choice-Here Hat”. This season has also exacerbated my overfunctioning tendencies when it comes to my work, which is terribly easy to do in a half time setting. 

I’m grateful that God carries us through these seasons, through the gift of community that steps in to make meals and watch children and through the gift of grace that works beyond my abilities and through the gift of people who will just sit with me and acknowledge the shittiness of it all without feeling the need to solve anything.

I’m hopeful that as the school year starts, there will be a bit more margin for healthy rhythms - both for me in my own spiritual practices (which have gone woefully neglected) and in terms of prioritizing my family and their well-being. I’m hopeful that as the church moves forward into its new season, we can have some good conversations about expectations and roles and responsibilities and communication. Maybe the first wounds can begin to heal from earlier this summer. 

And maybe I can step a bit more intentionally into the spaciousness I want for this next season of my life.