Letting Go of What I Didn’t Do This Summer

“Can we make  brownies?”

That’s what my daughter asks when I tell my kids we’re going to an outdoor concert along the riverfront.

She asks about brownies because this is what  we do.

We tote lawn chairs to an open area on the lawn, spray on some bug spray, and settle in to  listen to the music while munching on our two favorite “outdoor concert snacks:”  popcorn and brownies.

Sometimes we bring cookies instead or skip the popcorn.

But not often.

Outdoor concert = popcorn + brownies.

It’s an equation we know and love.

My kids love traditions and they eagerly hold me to them.  That’s why we poured the ingredients for brownies into a mixing bowl this morning to make our treat for tonight’s adventure.

Because what would summer be without outdoor concerts?  And what would outdoor concerts be without popcorn and brownies?

Tragic, that’s what!  Full of despair and disappointment!

Of course, that’s just silly talk.  But somehow it can feel that way.

Unmet expectations can push our weary souls right to the ground.

I love our family traditions as much as my kids do, but I also bear the burden of them and I’ve felt that weight a little this summer.

It’s not just traditions, though, that can keep me dancing on the edges of guilt.

It’s mostly what I expect of myself.  Roles I need to fulfill.  Tasks I need to  accomplish.   Must-do’s, should-do’s,  and have-to’s.

It’s endlessly seeing ideas and reminders that I could do more and I could do better.

It’s comparing myself with others and not feeling like I measure up.

Those other moms have their kids accomplishing all  these cool activities  this summer.  Look at how many books they read, places they went, projects they made!

The pressure!

It comes from comparing ourselves with our own past.

I used to be able to read more books, get more done, finish more  on my to-do list, keep my house cleaner, manage more projects.

But that’s not this year, not this summer, not this season.

 

This summer has been teaching me more and more that it’s okay to let some things go.   We don’t have to do every good thing or every familiar thing.

I carried around guilt well into July this year about what I wasn’t doing.

We hadn’t picnicked out at our favorite playground yet.

I’m failing at this summer.

We’d barely made it through one audiobook.

I’m failing at this summer.

We did not run around the yard with an empty mason jar at twilight and catch  as many fireflies as possible, just to release them all at once before going to bed.

I’m failing at this summer.

 

I haven’t written a book, pitched a book, edited a book, or in any way spent one second thinking about a new book.

I’m failing at this summer.

Maybe this all looks differently for you.  Maybe our seasons are different and are expectations vary.

But maybe we can all identify with this feeling of just not doing enough or being enough or  being able to keep up with all our own ideas of perfect.

After all, does summer have to be “perfect?”  Maybe it just needs to be beautiful in its own unique and personal way.

Maybe any day can be beautiful without being perfect.

Does it matter to Jesus if I have the brownies for the concert?

Nope.

Is i t nice to have the brownies?  Sure!

Is it worth stressing over or beating myself up over  for not making brownies?

No.

What else can we let go of?

Are those projects another mom is doing great?

Sure!

Am I a failure as a mom if I don’t do  the same thing as her?

Not at all.

Oh–whisper that again to your soul:  You are not a failure for not doing every good thing you see around you.

You don’t  have to do it all all the time.

Don’t you just love that when Jesus fed the crowd with a few fish and loaves as they sat expectantly on a hillside,  He didn’t demand that the disciples come more prepared?

He didn’t demand that they provide the supply or that they be enough in themselves.

They offered him a little boy’s lunch and He did the rest.

Lisa Harper reminds us of this lesson:

“Just use what you have and do the best that you can”  (Lisa Harper, The Gospel  of Mark).

Tonight I have the brownies to take with us to the concert, but if I didn’t, that’d be fine, too.

I don’t need  to spend the whole evening feeling guilty for what I didn’t do.

I  can be oh so grateful and oh so joyful for the day Jesus gave me.

7 thoughts on “Letting Go of What I Didn’t Do This Summer

  1. Elihu says:

    I totally relate to this—not just during the summer, but on a regular basis. It’s a joy-killer. I have had to stop berating myself so much and just try to accomplish what I can with the time given to me.

    Thank you for the encouragement today!

  2. M. Eileen King says:

    Amen!! One of my favorite sayings is, “Satan doesn’t care which side of the fence he throws you off.” He wins if he wears you out by keeping you too busy, or shutting you down. It takes balance to walk the fence.

  3. Betty La Place says:

    It used to be Christmas for me. I started baking before Thanksgiving, giving homemade goodies as Christmas gifts. The ornaments had to be handmade; they did include the ones that my children made at school, but I also made ornaments from pine cones, gum balls, tuna cans, and even blown out eggs. It had to be a fresh Christmas tree, and fresh greens from the yard at the windows, on the mantels, wreaths on the door, etc. And then there were the concerts—at schools, churches, and community. One year as my daughter and I were putting the finishing touches on everything, she stopped, and told me that no matter what she tried to do, I wasn’t satisfied. It was an awakening! I had to stop and think, what was Christmas really about—the celebration of the birth of the Christ child. In all my busyness, I didn’t have time to be aware of the important things! Now, I don’t do try to do everything—I have come to embrace an artificial tree and greens, or even bakery goodies, and I enjoy the “reason for the season” a whole lot more!

    • Heather C. King says:

      What a great testimony! Those holiday seasons can definitely tangle us up in traditions that are good in themselves, but can be so stressful if we focus so much on them we lose the meaning. I love how you were able to change for the better and choose grace instead!

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