Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When All Is Green...

There is a song that my parents have always enjoyed, and we grew up hearing many times, called "Summertime and the Living is Easy."  Have you heard it?  It really is a catchy tune!  You can just imagine yourself lounging near water on a beautiful, sunny, breezy summer day.  There is just something about summer, isn't there?  (Well, especially for all of my Midwest friends.)  We feel the seasons and we find ourselves, at some point, longing for those summer days.  And it's not only about school being out; it's not only about the long swims; it's not only about popsicles and ice cream sundaes (though a sundae sure sounds heavenly right now!).  It's the whole thing!  There's just something about summer...when all is green.  Isn't that the way life is too?  When the living is easy--when all is green--we do just fine! 

I've been thinking about that in my life for several reasons recently.  There's just something easier, more slow-paced and relaxing, when it's summertime.  Sure, I still have responsibilities; I'm not even entirely finished with the home school year for my son.  But, the living is easy!  I only have to look out my windows and see all the green and I'm overwhelmed with joy, peace, and utter contentment!  (Maybe it helps that green is my absolute favorite color!)  I'm sad to see it go, and so happy to see it return!  It's the whole picture really:  the blue skies, the contrast of the green leaves, brown tree trunks, and the vibrant colors everywhere!  I'm in awe of God's glory all around!
"The earth in summer is brimming with beauty, beauty of such magnificence and variety and unembarrassed lavishness, ripe beauty, lush beauty, beauty given to us with such generosity and abundance it is almost scandalous."
In summertime, the living truly is easier.  In summertime moments of our lives, the living is easier too--no need to strive or work relentlessly.  There is an easier flow or current to our days.  The reality of our lives, however, is that it isn't always summer.  The living isn't always easy.  This is when the work needs to be done.  This is when we have to take stock of exactly where we are and how we got here.  And sometimes, we even need extra help in our journey!  We're soaking in the rays of the sun during the summer; but in the bleak days of winter, we have to work purposely to warm ourselves.  It's crucial for us to do what needs to be done when we aren't in summertime moments or days.  If we have to work extra hard, or seek counsel, or evaluate and re-evaluate, then that is exactly what we should do!  If we need to steer our boat in a different direction because a cold front is moving in, then that's what we'd better do!  If we pay attention, we can surely see the warning signs that tell us it isn't summer any longer--or not for long. 

I'm not always completely at peace in my own skin when it comes to growing older.  If I'm honest, I'll admit that there are times when I long for younger, more carefree days.  There are times when my numerical age just annoys me, because I feel at least 10 years younger on the inside.  However, one thing I so appreciate about growing older is that I've learned better how to embrace different seasons of my life.  Not always.  Not without some work and determination.  But, I've learned that there is a time to rest and enjoy; there is a time to put my hand to the plow; there is a time to study, reflect, listen, and learn.  Wisdom tells us that we benefit from paying attention to the season that we're in and do what needs to be done during that season.  So, when all is green--when the living is easy, then great!  But, when the living isn't so easy, it is time to take stock and direct our lives, our days, on purpose

I've been reflecting on this concept, as I said before, in several realms of my life and the lives of others around me.  I've considered relationships specifically.  Whether it's the relationship I have with my spouse; or the relationship with my children; friends or others, I have to choose to pay attention on purpose.  I need to take stock at times.  You know, driving is a lot easier in the summer (as long as your AC doesn't quit on ya), but driving in the winter takes a lot more skill, caution, alertness, and patience.  There may be adverse road conditions!  Our relationships can be exactly the same.  When I see adversity arise in any of these relationships, I owe it to myself and the other person, to take stock and develop a course of action. 

I honestly don't think that many of the conditions in our relationships take us entirely by surprise.  If we are paying attention, we see the warning signs.  When my daughter is whining excessively, chances are she needs some one-on-one time; she needs me to slow down and pay attention to her.  She needs me to put the vacuum away, come sit with her on the couch, snuggle, and read a book.  She doesn't need me to put the vacuum away and move on to the next task on my to-do list, while fussing at her to stop her whining!  And I'm guilty, all too often, of the latter.  When my husband and I start bickering about the relatively insignificant details of our lives, we need a date night!  We need time to truly reconnect; we need to remind ourselves why we are together, what the future holds, and what we love about our life together.  And, if we can't have a date night out, we make one at home; we get coffee or take-out, and we spend time together...we do this often!  When it's summertime, we can just run outside in shorts and flip flops and take a walk.  When it's getting colder, we have to do much more preparation to even venture outdoors.

It's well and good to enjoy the summertime days of our lives.  When it's lush and green, enjoy as you should!  It's also okay to go through the other seasons.  They each have a purpose and something to teach us.  The key is to pay attention.  We must!  Every relationship in our life is depending on us paying attention to what season it is!

*quote by John Eldredge, Captivating