Summer, where’d you go?

Your inability to disengage and rest is a reflection of where you find your identity.

In my early years of formation as a young man, I learned to view life in seasons. When I view life in seasons I am able to be grateful for the experiences that that season invited me to. We all know certain seasons bring with it joy, and mountaintop experiences; and for other seasons it brings pain, and the valley.

Long story short– for the past year, thankfully, I was able to freelance as a tutor. I am thankful for that opportunity as that season of being a tutor really forced me to think about what I want to do coming out of the pandemic– and now, I am back to teaching, and pursuing higher education for child development.

If you have something you want to achieve, take yourself seriously. There is too much on the line for you to not take YOU seriously.

Before I transition into a new teaching position I know that I need to decompress, and restore my mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Education takes a toll, and requires all of us, and it engages all of who we are. For me, I take a holistic approach to teaching in that I bring all of me to and in the classroom.

For the past two months or so I have called this my summer break. And what a break it was. Luckily, my girlfriend lives in L.A. now so I was able to spend my summer break in a different city away from the normal stresses of S.F.

We all know certain seasons bring with it joy, and mountaintop experiences; and for other seasons it brings pain, and the valley.

And as I think about it now, with all of the different commitments outside of career, I have been able to rest mentally, and more so emotionally, heck, even spiritually.

I have learned now, to take myself seriously. And I don’t mean that I’m going to stop enjoying life, or laughing, or smiling, no. What I am saying is that I am going to start taking my health seriously. I am going to start respecting the boundaries I have set in place. I am going to start taking my mental health seriously. I am going to start taking my goals seriously. It’s time we stop playing ourselves by putting our goals on the backburner. If you have something you want to achieve, take yourself seriously. There is too much on the line for you to not take YOU seriously.

Take yourself seriously.

And what I am not saying is to be selfish. Still love your neighbors. Put other people’s interests above your own. And I think what I am saying is that it’s a tension. And that’s love. How do we love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves?

But at the same time, it was a season to enter into my own mess and humanity so that upon coming back to S.F. and transitioning into normalcy, I would be able to more fully and deeply enter into the lives of others and the communities I am included in.

We can’t love our neighbor if we don’t love ourselves. And maybe that’s why this world is so parched and hopeless. It’s that we can’t love the people around us because we don’t even know how to love ourselves. We’re drunk on knowledge and self fulfillment that we’ve forgotten and are parched for vulnerability and deep committed relationships.

And that’s exactly what this break was. Yes, I was able to spend time with my girlfriend in L.A. and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything else! But at the same time, it was a season to enter into my own mess and humanity so that upon coming back to S.F. and transitioning into normalcy, I would be able to more fully and deeply enter into the lives of others and the communities I am included in.

We can’t love our neighbor if we don’t love ourselves. And maybe that’s why this world is so parched and hopeless. It’s that we can’t love the people around us because we don’t even know how to love ourselves.

Often times we don’t realize that our desert souls and hearts are longing for an oasis. The hard work of entering into this oasis is leaving behind (for a season/moment) our commitments and work. I would argue that if you struggle to disengage from your work or commitments, have you made them a functional savior? Have you turned your work and commitments into idols? Your inability to disengage and rest is a reflection of where you find your identity.

For the sake of our family’s, friends, and communities we are a part of– I urge you, for your neighbors’ sake, to learn how to rest and enter into the desert. The valley. The quiet. The solitude. That is where we find ourselves. That is where the chiseling of character can happen. It is where we learn that we are not, but are more than, our work, and our commitments. It is where we discover our humanity, our frailty and need for others, and love.

The Blessing of Interruptions

How different would our lives be if we started to see the interruptions in our lives as a blessing? An opportunity to nose dive into life and there would we find deeper sources of vitality.

Now, I know that might sound like a strange title but hear me out–

We all succumb to the ever frustrating interruptions of our daily lives– kids, traffic, illness, weather, — you name it– and that usually sounds like adults who have grown old, and have become bitter.

But what about a global pandemic that literally shifted the way we do life.

This pandemic might be the biggest life-altering interruption we will ever face. Traffic, and bad weather impeding our travel plans seem minuscule in comparison to being locked down for an entire year.

What if the interruptions are actually blessings, and opportunities?

Allow me to submit this- What if the interruptions are our vocation? Vocation is another word for purpose, or mission. What if the interruptions are our work? What if the interruptions are actually blessings, and opportunities?

Henri Nouwen says it best –

“But what if our interruptions are in fact our opportunities, if they are challenges to an inner response by which growth takes place and through which we come to the fullness of being?”, “What if all the unexpected interruptions are in fact the invitations to give up old fashioned and outmoded styles of living and are opening up new unexplored areas of experience?”

And what, exactly, would we be moving into if we saw these interruptions as blessings?

If we have the courage to see the beauty and blessings of interruptions- our lives would move from fate to opportunities, hurts become warnings and boundaries, and stagnancy an invitation to search for deeper sources of life and vibrancy.

Seeing interruptions not just as fate, but opportunities, I can then experience life with a much deeper vibrancy

Maybe these interruptions- however frustrating they might be- are invitations and opportunities for us to loosen our grip on life, and our illusion that we were ever in control of it in the first place; that they are loosening our ties to the ground so our wings can spread freely wherever the wind carries us.

I, like you, am deeply saddened and frustrated at the vision I had for 2020 and the reality that was the pandemic. I take joy knowing that I have something to do about it- there is liberty in knowing I can respond.

When we start seeing interruptions not just as fate, but opportunities, we can then experience life with a much deeper vibrancy; to develop a new style, a new way of living only if we choose to view the interruptions (however big or small) as a blessing, and as an opportunity.