The Labor Day Holiday typically serves as a joyful punctuation mark on the much-celebrated summer season. We parents tend to relish the time together as a family, the trips taken, the weather enjoyed, the gatherings attended. We set our faces like flint toward the beginning of another school year, praying for a good year, and hoping for some breathing room.
Instead of fond reminiscence, I find myself feeling melancholy, as if something has escaped me. It's as if there were a party I couldn't attend, yet had to watch everyone enjoying it through the glass, while I suffered.
When my husband lost his job last October, it was the sixth time we had endured such a transition in sixteen years. My prayer was that I would handle it much better, glorifying God to the utmost in this process. He always came through in the past for us. I wanted to hold my head high, trusting Him full on, not wavering, inspiring others to do the same.
Days turned into weeks; weeks into months; there were no job offers, and we were starting a new year with only one breadwinner who was not even making enough to support one person, let alone five. A gracious family we serve offered my husband a low-paying job beginning in Mid-January to provide us with income until he found something more substantial.
When the summer months arrived, not only had my husband not found a higher-paying job, I needed to take on a second job in hopes of just surviving. This translated into a complete lack of everything we typically call summer. There were no vacations, no camping, no dinner guests. All that desire to glorify God was replaced by a feeling of complete inadequacy.
I arrived at Labor Day finding myself grieving things like:
- A change of scenery. Stuck in one place by our finances, we were unable to spend time just enjoying the natural beauty of different parts of our home state.
- Time devoted to just being with my kids, and not working. With my eldest entering her senior year of high school, and my youngest well out of grade school, the time is short. I missed not spending even one day just focusing on them and things they enjoy.
- Daily time outside. Oh, it is true that my heart is nearer to God in a garden. And I spend wonderful time meditating on Him when I can take my 2 mile morning walks. Nevertheless, there was not time for that with the 10-12 hour work days I had to take up.
- Time with the children away. There was neither time nor money for the kids to be away on either a missions trip or at hemophilia camp this summer. Those short breaks are always mutually edifying for us.
- Adult time out with other couples. Oh, to enjoy food that we didn't have to prepare over conversation with other adults! The refreshment and laughter is always healthy restoration for the soul. Unfortunately, it wasn't in our budget.
- Sitting on a beach somewhere... Anywhere! Water and woods are two of my "thin spaces" where I encounter God. Sitting on the shores of a lake or river are great therapy for me. Again, trying to hold down two jobs made for no time.
- Trying fun new recipes. I have almost forgotten what it is like to have time to be creative with food, and bring enjoyment to others through cooking.
- Music. The sounds of vocalists and musicians playing in the open summer air can't help but lift the soul. Yet, even free concerts on our local beach Friday nights or at outdoor festivals were not ours to hear these past warm months.
- Loving engagement with others. The isolation and pain of our current sufferings were beyond overwhelming this summer, especially as we watched the world go on without us. Friends delighted in trips and adventures galore as we sat here... completely alone... praying for deliverance.
It helps to get beyond the melancholy by remembering that this is just a season God has permitted. He who brought us to it is faithful to bring us through it. This is only a phase of time. It won't last forever, even if it feels as if it will. He will bring the nourishing rains in their proper time to yield better days once again.
Until that time, we may miss all of these simple joys of summer, but our job is to remain faithful in perseverance.
PRAY: O Father, thank You for reminders of all the good gifts You have blessed us with in the past. Life's simple pleasures become very big blessings when we are no longer able to enjoy them. Help us to persevere in our seasons of trouble, Lord. We put our hope in You alone.
~ Barb Dittrich