School isn’t yet out as I sit with my cup of coffee to write this. However, the near turn of the calendar page promises that very soon summer will be here. Alarms can be turned off. Little girls with bed head can be welcomed next to me for morning snuggles rather than hurried into the kitchen for breakfast. Outfits won’t need to be pre-picked to make sure there are no clothing dilemmas hindering getting out of the door on time (although something tells me mine still will because they are true girly girls). The live-by-the-clock pace necessitated by the school calendar and any accompanying extra-curriculars can be momentarily abandoned for a slower paced life of freedom and flexibility.
Or at least in theory.
Ironically the modern mom longs forward to this precious season yet in a culture that believes keeping kids busy is better we sit before a mountain of papers offering opportunity for basketball camp, soccer, dance camp, tennis, swimming lessons, and the list goes on. Each, in their own right, is good and offers chance for our children to grow and excel and smile.
But are we sacrificing the most meaningful smiles in the process?
The other day I sat with a group of women. “I don’t know how I’m going to do this. Three kids at three different fields at the same time with only two of us seems impossible,” said one. Feeling her pain, another piped up. “Between all our schedules I don’t even know where we are going to find time for a family getaway.” And the conversation snowballed with a group of understanding moms genuinely trying to do their best to gift their children with activities they like but finding themselves frazzled in the process.
Stress is real before the theoretical “slow down” even begins.
I’m in a bible study with a friend who’s befriended someone new to our country. By our standards we would deem her homeland impoverished and underprivileged. Yet, as she spoke to my friend she said, “It’s so loud here. It’s too busy to hear the voice of God.”
Much to “the land of opportunities” chagrin we are scurrying around in the name of good and between the split directions, outside voices, and attempts to beat the clock we might be losing what matters most. Focused, faith-filled hearts. Family togetherness. Fulfillment in the simple.
In The Message Jeremiah 2:25 reads,
“Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? But you say, ‘I can’t help it. I’m addicted to alien gods. I can’t quit.”
And what are we after in these overbooked lives we lead? Is it kids staying out of trouble? Is it fun? Somewhere buried underneath is it a status thing? And how does this translate into our home? Are we still experiencing the family table and getting the quality togetherness we longed for before the season started? Or, is it snappy attitudes and shallow, rushed living?
Are we being pulled by alien gods that appear good but actually destroy?
When I walked away from that conversation I was convicted to prayerfully consider the upcoming months. There are places I want my children to grow and be challenged and find joy in outside of our home. I’m not suggesting immediate denial of all the wonderful opportunities summer activities have to offer. But, it must not come at the sacrifice of strengthening the most important unit of all- family.
Our children need time to be still with us. We only get one shot with them. They need to know our heart and see the Lord’s teaching modeled through us in order to live that out in an ever-changing world. They need to know we cherish time with them and want to be with them (even if it means taking an eye roll) to help them grow in loving confidence. They need to know value in quiet time and the simple things like family picnics and park fun in order to possess a heart for contentment in adulthood.
Because if we get them started in this activity circus society perpetuates, how can we ever expect them to get out?
Join me in slowing down, friends. Bow your head in prayer and ask for clear differentiation between what He is calling you to do and what you are simply feeling pulled to do.
If we honestly seek His heart I believe we will all experience less stress and greater life-satisfaction. Family time will feel richer and the activities we choose will elicit pleasure rather than strain. The summer season could live up to its name.
And isn’t that what we all want?