With summer vacation about to begin, bringing a sense of endless promise and boundless time, my husband and I have been talking a lot about goals. “What do you want to accomplish this summer?” I asked him. “What are your top three goals for the summer?” he countered. We’re even imposing these goals on our boys. What activities should they pursue this summer? How will that help them achieve long-term success? What is one major personal goal they can accomplish before school starts up again in the fall?
Goals are good and important and can lead to certain kinds of growth. But this constant focus on “doing” has its pitfalls. We live in a world that places an enormous amount of emphasis on accomplishments and achievements. We present ourselves to the world as living resumes, saying: “This is what I do” as opposed to “This is who I am.” Our lives need to be efficient and productive at all times. We devote ourselves to the gods of progress and success. This approach to life can easily backfire and end up blocking true and meaningful growth. We miss out on opportunities to build relationships, to grow in our closeness with God, to experience the sacred in the everyday moment.
In a world filled with the demands of so much DOING, perhaps summer, with its warm, gentle breezes and long, hazy days of sunshine, should be a time for just BEING.
- BEING wise enough to know when we need to rest and restore ourselves. This is not a luxury or a guilty pleasure but a vital necessity! It’s not laziness, but a time of being spiritually alive and tuned in to the ways in which God is moving in our lives.
- BEING open to an intimate and deepening relationship with our Creator. A constant pursuit of doing makes it difficult to hear God and respond to His stirrings in our souls.
- BEING available to experience the sacred in the most ordinary present moment. Pay attention to what we might be missing. The thing that will have the most impact on us today, is most likely not on our daily “to do” lists.
- BEING aware of friendships or relationships that need nurturing. Practice the art of doing “nothing” with our spouses, kids, or friends. Take time for idle conversation and see what’s revealed in the process. Talk, but more importantly, listen.
- BEING able to sit in the silence and let ourselves be filled up by the presence of God.
- BEING humble enough to realize that God’s plans for us are so much more important than our own personal goals for success.
- BEING creative in our approach to spirituality as we strive to deepen our relationship with God. Try something new this summer. Attend a spiritual retreat or workshop. Keep a journal of thoughts on “being.” Discover a new way of praying.
Let’s put our resumes of accomplishment away for a few months. Or better yet, let’s rewrite them altogether. What we “do” should be an outpouring of who we “are” and who God wants us to be. Who we are is the essence of our souls and the foundation of our lives. Don’t we deserve time to nurture and cultivate that part of ourselves? It shouldn’t be pushed to the back burner to be replaced by lists of things we want to do and accomplish. Our connection to the Divine should dictate our “to do” list.
Spend your summer BEING a child of God.