Summer is waning, but the sun is still beckoning us out into the great outdoors while concurrently threatening to burn and blister the skin. Thunderstorms periodically shake the skies reminding that tension forms when opposites collide. Warm nights and long days usher in a sense of restlessness and the temptation to throw off responsibility.
When I think of summers past, I recall June days long ago spent trekking the Great Wall, a quiet Independence Day spent on the streets of London, but August always sends me back to the places where formative years were lived and life-altering decisions were made. The streets where accidents happened and innocent joys were lived out. The warm nights when I pranced into places as silliness ruled because I was young and unkissed by shadows that jade. Yes, mistakes were made with abandon and summer loves tempted to steal away innocence, but wisdom often demands the cost of ignorance. However, summer still awakens pieces of the giddy girl surrounded by jaunty kids without a care in the world.
It seems September is always waiting with its scheduling and productivity, but I miss days filled with passion, curiosity, and play. So how can I balance the wonder of childhood with the wisdom of adulthood? One does not have to be sacrificed to the other for me to be holy. In my opinion, the two work much better side by side.
Childhood and adulthood. Play and responsibility. Head in the clouds; feet on the ground. August, September and so on. The tensions are best understood when they are held dear, not as enemies but as companions.
I wonder sometimes about God, and how he contains all his grief, goodness, and glory. I appreciate that He is beyond our reach and yet so close. This world is full of beauty, but we can miss it when we are afraid of the messiness that comes with experiencing life. Play, justice, mercy, wonder, sorrow, joy, awe, and discipline, it all gets untidy. Oh, to be in a place that the imagination can breathe, so the soul can feel the freedom to dream of what might be—dream of what could be created. It is so easy to sacrifice adventure for comfort, but when we are not careful, convenience slowly pilfers shalom.
During the most recent heatwave, I made a foolproof plan for myself and my kids: don’t leave the house. The air conditioner pumped and my coziness was protected. We watched too much TV, ate too much food, and enjoyed the days, but it was not sustainable. We made the most of being confined and limited but felt our thirst for growth, richness, and awe becoming numb.
I want my heart to race and laughter to steal my breath away, but I only find a false imitation of such in front of a screen. When I draw tight circles around my life either with air conditioning or control I begin to craft illusions of security that slowly confine and take captive.
If we meet the heat of life with the twinkle of childlike faith in our eye, we are much more likely to see the purpose and potential in the moment. We can answer questions like, “What is God inviting me into?” We can better discern what is truth and what is deception. We can see paths of trust and contentment instead of being blinded by frustration of expectation or rising fear. After three days of intense heat, I forced the kids outside. I know the warmth is fierce, but I am determined to teach them we were not meant to be housed away, we were meant to explore—meant to go.
Go into the world with Good News and draw people to the hope we have. We venture out to seek hearts that need to know they are not alone in their suffering. We grasp at holding the beauty of loving one another even when the world feels at war. We risk being burnt and step outside of our homes, our comfort, our plans, and do the hard work of walking in just mercy to humbly point others towards Jesus who sets captives free and beckons, “come,” to the weary soul.
Chara Donahue enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She is an adjunct professor, holds an MSEd, and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is the host of the podcast The Bible Never Said That and a regular contributor at iBelieve. Her words have appeared at Christianity Today, Crosswalk, (in)courage, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara on Facebook and Twitter.