5 Things I Learned This Summer

5 Things I Learned This Summer

Reflection is a powerful teacher in helping us to pay attention as we take note of what is happening within and around us. This post is part of a series where we spend time reflecting on the past season before stepping into the next. In sharing what I learned, my hope is you too will be encouraged to pause and reflect.

A change in seasons is upon us. Reflecting on the summer of 2020, the multifaceted nature of life was affirmed once again for me. I certainly don’t need to rehash the fact that this summer was different from what any of us had planned. There was bending and breaking, sorrow, and joy—each of us embodying the chaos in different ways, each of us finding our way through, each of us growing and being stretched through the struggle.

Though this list is far from all-encompassing, here is a shortlist of what I learned (and in some cases re-learned) this summer in no particular order.

1. Sometimes it feels weird to celebrate, but it’s okay to still do it.

Celebrating myself or my achievements has always been a little uncomfortable, but this summer, with everything going on in the world, that feeling felt especially heightened. As we considered how to celebrate my 30th birthday, more than once, I felt like throwing in the towel as plan after plan fell through. But it was within this struggle that I began to see the importance of taking time to celebrate, honor, and enjoy milestones—not just take them for granted. I came to realize the glory of those moments goes to God and that those little moments of joy on our darkest days should be honored as the gift they truly are.

30th birthday celebration

2. Discernment is a skill that must be practiced.

While summer is usually a time of respite, this one in many ways demanded a heightened intake of information and, therefore, more time discerning all that was consumed. More than ever before, I realized that discernment is a skill that must be practice individually—a skill we must be intentional to cultivate.

3. The Lord meets us where we are, just as we are.

When we pursue the Lord, He meets us where we are, just as we are—no matter how bruised or broken. This summer was a difficult one in many ways, but one thing I know for sure is that the Lord meets us right where we are.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.” Psalm 147:3-6 ESV

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure." Psalm 147:3-6 ESV

4. God’s plans continue to be better than my own.

Once the idea to grow a cut flower garden came to me, I had to make it happen. The beauty, comfort, and joy of flowers hold a special place in my heart. So, last fall, I ordered seeds filled with anticipation of what was to come.

This spring, I prepared the soil and carefully sowed each seed. Then, I waited.

One day after the seeds were placed in the ground, rain poured without ceasing. While the ground flooded, I remained optimistic the seeds would be okay. My hope increased as sprouts appeared a few weeks later. But as more weeks passed, it became obvious that what I had grown was a bed of weeds.

Discouraged, I pulled the weeds and tried growing a few rows of carrots and zinnias in their place.

While weeding recently, I stopped in my tracks. A single flower was blooming in full glory among weeds. A single seed from four flower packets had grown against all odds. That single flower reminded me that hope always remains…and God’s plans are always greater than my own. That single flower likely reframed for me far more than a whole garden full of flowers ever will.

Flower that brought me hope.

This story was originally published as part of Kellie LaFollette’s Reframing Rain Facebook community.

5. A new decade isn’t an automatic reset.

Leading up to my 30th birthday, I convinced myself my thirties offered a fresh, clean slate—a second chance for life to prove this decade could be different. But this summer has reminded me:

+ that it is possible to live life to the full—even when it is hard.

+ how my plans aren’t always the best-laid plans.

+ the reality that we can hold both joy and sorrow; beauty and pain.

+ how life is a mix of both/and rather than either/or.

+ how the easy path isn’t always the best one.

What has summer 2020 taught you?

Abundant Life Manifesto: truth to center you on your journey to abundant life.