The Summer That Was
By Sara Davison
It is a sad fact of life that few things play out in real life like they do on paper. The summer of 2014 was like that for me. In the spring, it occurred to me that the coming season could be one of great productivity. Two of my three children would be gone to camp for six weeks, while the other one was working nearly full time. I would have virtually limitless hours and days to fill with writing and editing projects, a luxury I have not known since the birth of my first child sixteen years ago.
The possibilities were endless.
As summer approached, I was nearly giddy with excitement as I contemplated crossing item after item off of my perpetually blood-pressure-raising to-do list. Deadlines would lose their death grip as I handed in assignments well ahead of schedule. I would complete blog posts (including this one) well in advance and compose outlines, chapters and possibly even an entire novel. I would tweet, post regularly on my author Facebook page, and generally utilize social media in new and more interesting ways than ever before. Creativity would flow like a sudden, torrential rain in the desert. Who knew what I could accomplish, given the time and the uncharacteristic peace and quiet that would pervade our home over those nine precious weeks?
The answer, I came to discover, was very little.
The long, sun-filled days, the shimmering heat, the lack of a regular schedule and routine, and a general deceleration of the pace of life in society at large all contributed to a reduction in the drive and motivation to work and be overly productive. Creation itself seemed to be saying that this was a season to slow down, relax, spend less time working and more time with family and friends, a message and a mindset that was difficult to combat.
And maybe that was a good thing.
I didn’t write a novel or even any chapters or outlines. I barely submitted my blog posts (including this one) on time. I completed only a fraction of the editing projects I had hoped to and I didn’t tweet or post or do anything new or exciting on social media at all.
Which isn’t to say I didn’t accomplish anything.
In the end, my sons did not stay at camp as long as planned and my daughter ended up with only part-time hours. Sure, both of those things threw a wrench into my plans to be incredibly productive this summer. They also provided me with unexpected time with my children, something I couldn’t bring myself to be disappointed about. I had a relaxing holiday with my husband, went for coffee and walks with friends, saw movies, read books and caught up on my sleep. Through all of that, I learned a valuable lesson.
I need to stop defining productivity the way the world does, and look at it from God’s perspective.
As Jesus said to his disciples, “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you” (Luke 12:27, 29-31).
Stepping out of the usual routine and business of life to ask myself why I want to accomplish the things on my list—for temporal or eternal gain, to store up treasure for myself or for the kingdom, for my glory or for God’s—is a valid and valuable use of my time.
Yes, we must live up to our responsibilities, but our primary responsibility is to care for those whom God has entrusted to us, including giving them a large portion of our time and our attention. And yes, it is important to work and to be productive, but not at the expense of spending time with God, serving others, investing in relationships and taking care of our health.
In that light, when I look back over the summer that was, I am comforted and encouraged to know that, while my agent and editors may or may not agree, it was an incredibly productive season after all.
About this Contributor:
Sara Davison has been a finalist for three national writing awards: Best New Canadian Christian Author; Best Column – Single; and Best Novel – Mystery or Suspense. Davison is a member of three different writers’ groups, two of which she helped to found. Her favourite way to spend the days (and nights) is drinking coffee – a running theme throughout her novels – and making stuff up.
Visit Sara’s website: Choose to Press On
Facebook: Author Sara Davison