Written by Heather Mitton
I’m sure you’ve seen them online:
“The Ultimate Guide to Summer”
“Your Guide to the Perfect Vacation”
“10 Musts Before September”
I am a sucker for lists like that.
I love the idea of having a planned, itemized approach to my life—particularly the fun parts—so I can methodically cram in as much scheduled joy as possible.
I know. I’m a hoot.
The Ultimate Summer is about booking and arranging and bucket-listing everything that captures the essence of the holiday (Mud-sliding! Festivals! Bonfires! Catching up with so-and-so!) and fitting it into one tidy, summery package before August ends.
The problem with Ultimate Summers is that they can get to be a bit…much. And, since we live in Canada, there is a lot of pressure to fit a summer’s worth of fun into a very small window of cooperative weather.
So here are a few reasons to shoot for a Pretty Good Summer this year:
If you’ve ever worked at summer camp, you understand the preciousness of that one week off between camp ending and school/work beginning. Which is why, when you fill it with all of the super fun things you haven’t had time to do, you can launch into September totally wiped.
Summer is a built-in change of pace; a break between jobs, or school, a chance to catch up on your downtime and rest. Try not to miss it!
If you need some help, practice your if-then statements.
“If I arrive home from a trip the night before I go back to work, then I am going to feel _____.”
“If I don’t get a chance to reorganize my space before school starts, then I will _____.”
“If I don’t get some mornings to catch up on sleep, then _________.”
Do your September-to-June self a favour, and map out some time for rest and regrouping.
Save Some Cash
This one’s quick. Whether we like it or not, most fun costs money. Road trips, festivals, and Dairy Queen Blizzards (right?!) are expensive. We know students around the country are struggling with debt, and this may be a summer to put away the suitcases and kick it old-school.
Make Room for Surprises
I used to feel this pressure to create perfect experiences (and lots of them), because I wanted that to be part of my narrative. I wanted to be the girl who had a crazy, quirky, fast-paced life.
No one ever asked me to be that girl, of course… and it really wasn’t working for me.
At the lowest point of my Ultimate version of life, I was dutifully putting on my shoes and trudging out the door to the amazing thing I was too tired and over-scheduled to enjoy.
Sometimes, our perfect plan isn’t as perfect as we’d like to think. If our schedule is packed too tight, we may not be leaving space for unexpected experiences. Some of the best moments I’ve had have been unplanned; a friend who calls for coffee out of the blue or a long conversation in the parking lot after an event. When I finally eased off on the expectations I had for myself, I found that God delivered some of the best plans I had never made.
It turns out Jesus did not have a lot to say about vacation planning.
But in Scripture we do see the word “delight” pop up several times, 77 to be exact (ESV). I am not going to try to sell you the idea that it’s ever used in reference to this particular discussion, but I think it still applies.
To delight in something is to experience its full, pure joy.
Delight says no to rush, and yes to appreciation.
Delight says no to noise and yes to quiet pleasure.
Delight says no to “more” and yes to “enough.”
Delight says do yourself a favour and take this Ultimate Summer off. Search for the plans that will bring you wholeness and joy, and leave the rest for someone else’s list.