I’m always sad to say goodbye to summer. It’s my absolutely favorite season. I know everyone is in love with fall and that’s fine; I like fall too, but I love the heat and the long days and the cookouts and lemonade and shorts and bare feet.
I like tan legs and warm evenings.
I like no school and fireflies.
I like taking 30 seconds to dress for a run, instead of the 10 minutes is takes in the winter.
But, as always, summer’s over too soon, and as I sit well-entrenched in another autumn, it feels as though I blinked and missed summer. This summer my small but meaningful life was turned on it’s little head.
My husband, a pastor, took a call (in plain language, it’s a job transfer, if you’d like to learn more about the divine call, look here) to a completely different part of the state. A fairly familiar part, but it stills means a new church family, a new church, a new house, a new school and saying goodbye to our life, church and friends for the past six years. And we had six weeks to fix and sell our house (we had a MAJOR basement remodel), sort and pack, all while balancing life, kids, work and running.
Now before you think I’m a total wuss, I realize that people move everyday. Some families move every couple of years. I have moved about six or seven time in my life so this is not a completely new thing for me. But these life transitions are like lemons that need a little love to turn into some delicious, lip-smacking lemonade.
However, these life lemons are hard for everyone involved. I’m not complaining. In fact, the place to which we moved is wonderful. Beautiful area, beautiful house. Kind and caring people. But the life I knew and was comfortable with is gone, and the familiar has been replaced with unfamiliar. My kids, although troopers, still act out their stresses. My husband and I feel out of sorts and ungrounded, but thankfully it pulls us closer together rather than apart.
Nowhere is this unsettled feeling more present than in my runs.
Running out in the country creates a new set of challenges that I’m trying to adjust too. A complete darkness from lack of streetlights, animals that may or may not be friendly, and lots of hills that drivers fly over. To be fair, I’m sure they don’t expect a runner out at 5 am in the middle of nowhere. Who would be that crazy? But I’m terrified I’m going to get hit by a car.
My goals for the year are also out the window. Who cares about training for a marathon when I can barely keep up with everything happening around me? I tried to do everything: move, run, plan for a new school year, balance life at home and work, and keep everything clean and organized.
Turns out, that’s the perfect recipe for a meltdown.
Because every time we try to do everything and be perfect at everything, we will fail. Every. Single. Time. Yet time and time again we demand perfection of ourselves that we simply cannot meet. Why can’t we stop?
We care how people view us, and what they think of us. We want to present our very best self to our imaginary critics. We want to look like the people who do it all, have it all, and make it look so easy. We terrified someone might get mad at us, or think we’re stupid or weak or careless. And the funny thing is, no one actually cares. They’re all preoccupied with their own insecurities and vanities to worry about what we’re doing.
I finally had to give myself some grace and remind myself that no one cares if I run a marathon this fall or wait until spring. No one cares if I can shave another 30 seconds off of my mile time. No one cares if my house is messy or the dishes are done. No one really cares if I’m 2 minutes late for church.
We are all cracked and broken clay pots, aren’t we? Imperfect little lemons that God still manages to use to make lemonade and accomplish his will. So let go and place your trust in his promise that all things will work out for the good of those who love him.
Sometimes those promises are the only thing that we can grasp onto as our lives seem to spin out of control, when it seems all we have are the lemons and no lemonade. When trial upon trial bears down on us making us feel lost, inadequate, scared, or alone. Our Heavenly Father reminds us:
“Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”
“Be strong and courageous… for the LORD your God will be with you where ever you go.”
“So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”
“And surely I will be with you always, do the very end of the age.”
I may be struggling right now, but I can kiss vanity goodbye. I can hand God all of my little life “lemons,” and trust that he will do what’s best not only for me, but my family as well. I can hug my kids, love my students, smile at my husband, and chill out about my running. I can adjust my goals and be patient as God sandpapers me into the beautiful shape he wants.
This year might be an adjustment, but I can adjust. And I will be better for it.