For many of us, the ending of summer can signal the end of, seemingly all things fun and whimsical. Though many of us may be at the point in our lives where we are restricted to celebrating summer at night or on the weekend, there is still the joy of sunny days, hot weather, and the promise of the beach. That alone is what keeps many of us going as we sit hunched at our computers in our frozen tundra of an office. Summer means sticking your toes in the soft, squishy sand, suntans( and hopefully not sunburns), concerts, bonfires, and lifting your face up to feel the sunshine on a hot summer’s day at the pool.
Though there are so many things to look forward to during the fall months, many of us start to get into the rhythm that soon, winter will be upon us. And even if we do enjoy sweater weather and the smell of the many Bath and Body Works fall scents, when fall arrives, we resort back into autopilot. Kids go back to school, teachers to their classrooms, and you most likely have used up most of your vacation days.
I think, just like the changing of seasons and the fun of summer, it can be easy to get into that rhythm with our relationship with God. We have seasons just like summer, where we can feel God’s presence like the baking sun or we are filled with the anticipation and joy of meeting Him akin to us packing our bags for a much-needed vacation.
Though we may be busy over the summer months, there is always an air of fun, and rest, like you can take a nap whenever you want, preferably in a hammock in the sun. Unfortunately, summer has to come to an end, and our seasons of joy and excitement for Christ often meet their endings as well.
We may find ourselves in a season where we don’t want to read our Bibles like we used to, church seems like a drag, and we just have no idea what to say to God. We feel so busy with the hustle and bustle of the workplace, our community groups, friends, going to the gym, and cooking that we barely have enough time to think during the day, let alone reach out to God. We no longer feel that we can relax or just take a day to be in His presence. We may find ourselves busy with new classes, new work schedules, and new opportunities to serve at church.
It can be easy to become like a tree with our faith in God. During the summer we burst to life glowing and so full of life, but then slowly, sometimes without us even noticing, our leaves start to slowly change to a burnt out orange or tired looking green color. The leaves are still beautiful, but a lot more tired and less robust looking than they were in the summer. And then slowly, without giving it a thought, one day our tired wilted leaves and faith start to fall and crumble.
Does this sound familiar to anyone else?
Moving to a new community and place after college, I definitely felt the effects first hand of a tired and worn out faith. I was trying to get everything right and perfect at work, trying to find a church and meet a new community of friends, and unsuccessfully trying to cook myself something that wasn’t cereal during the week. After attending a Christian college for years where I was surrounded by people aching to share their faith and a constant flow of ministry events, it was hard to find out how my faith could fit into the adult world.
Let me let you in on a little secret. A strong faith takes work. People that have those extraordinary faiths or write books that you learn from, the people you envy and think are far more spiritual than you, do you know how they got to where they are at? With hard work and determination. They didn’t let the feeling of summer make them forget that they have to put in work sometimes to hear the voice of God. Even in their dry seasons, they are diligent followers of Christ.
I have to be honest, I don’t always feel like spending time with God these days. I hope this isn’t blasphemy, but often, I wish I could tune out and watch another episode of whatever on Hulu instead of taking some crucial moments to connect with God. It can be hard to make yourself get up and out of your comfy covers before the workday or class to spend time with a God that you think has forgotten about you. It can be hard to give God your attention when you feel more from watching a Netflix rom-com than you have recently felt reading your Bible. It can be hard to make His relationship a priority and spend time in the Word when we have access to so many podcasts and online sermons, that can just let us tell us what we should think.
But our relationship with God is never based on how we are feeling, it is based on how He views us.
That means that God still loves me, has chosen me, and wants to use me, even when I hit the snooze button on my alarm. Even when I choose TV, the gym, or any other form of numb activity over Him.
So I don’t know what season you are in with your faith today. Maybe summer hasn’t quite ended for you yet, or maybe winter has come early. Either way, I want you to know that having a tough time connecting with God and feeling stressed about not knowing when to spend time with Him is completely normal. We all have to find new routines and what works best for us when we enter the “real world.” The important thing to remember is not to give up just because you feel like you are in a dry season or are tired. God will never tire of growing closer to you.
Just because the sun isn’t burning you to a crisp, doesn’t mean it’s not still shining.
By putting in effort and learning and growing in the Lord, you can get to a place where even when you don’t feel like summer, you can still push through and see a glimpse of the sun. So, if you are feeling dry today, check out my tips below, instead of giving up. Maybe it’s time you got your bathing suit back out and ready for use. I heard this summer is going to be a hot one.
Things That Helped Me:
- Being really consistent about my time in the Word. Making it a priority to read it every day, even when I didn’t feel like it. Even if I barely glossed over it before going to bed.
- Finding community. Small groups are great to join. Not only can they have open conversations about topics like this, but they can help to keep you accountable when you are struggling.
- Turning off the “Christian” social media followers. We all know the people who post every single day what they are reading in the Bible on their Instagram stories, they are constantly quoting scriptures online, and post a screenshotted picture from their Spotify of whatever Hillsong song they woke up to. If you are struggling in your relationship, sometimes the last thing you need is to be reminded that you are falling short. But, the truth is, we are only ever falling short in our own eyes. God doesn’t expect the same metrics and guidelines that we put on ourselves to be a “Christian.” So, if you are following someone who is making you feel insecure about your faith, don’t hesitate to hit that unfollow button.
- Journal. When you can’t think of the words to pray, try writing them out. Be open and transparent to God about what you are feeling.
- Find a new way to structure your quiet time. There are so many different ways we can feel closer to God. It’s easy to think that our quiet times need to have us pray, read, or sing for a set amount of time each day. But, some people connect best to God through walking around nature, reading a scripture book, journaling, painting, talking to other believers. Though there is no substitute for reading His word and praying, it’s ok to know that everyone’s time spent with God looks different. Also, that sometimes you need to change it up!
I hope that this article can encourage you that so many people feel like they aren’t as close to God as they want to be or once were. No one can stay in summer forever, but that doesn’t mean that we have to sacrifice seeing the sun. Find what works best for you and rediscover who God is this fall!