Today is the last official day of my summer sabbatical. On Monday, I go back to the office, to a revised position and a team that’s been wondering and waiting. I’ll have to answer the questions about whether my book is done (and what my book is about, for that matter), how my writing is going, and a thousand other questions. I’m bracing myself for the raised eyebrows (“You’re homeschooling this year?!?”), the disappointment (“All that time off and your book’s NOT done?!?”), and the welcome back hugs (“It’s so good to have you back!”). In the midst of preparing for next week, I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learned this summer.
God is in control. Yes, I know it’s a bit cliche to say that. But discovering the reality of it, during this eight-week hiatus from paid work, has been powerful for me. There have been days when I started out wondering just what I was supposed to do, how the day was supposed to go, and have had little moments of amazement, seeing the touch of God in the smallest things.
One day, I was going to run errands, but I felt this weird urge to just stay put. I couldn’t put my finger on it, and it made me rather uncomfortable. And then my phone rang. A dear friend who was having surgery found out that the two people she had lined up to watch her kids (one in case the other couldn’t cover) were both suddenly tied up, unable to watch her kids. Could I come over? Well, yes, actually, I could.
I’m harder on myself than anyone else, including God. I knew this, in a very factual type of way. I revisited it this summer as I tried my hand at getting paid for writing. I thought about it as I spent time playing any number of make-believe games with my four-year-old. I pondered it as I failed at little goals and had bad days.
God is Daddy, and forgiving myself for the silly little failures is a big part in being able to see His outstretched arms and His loving smile. I am the prodigal, but He is the merciful Father, waiting for me.
God will provide. My salary has never been the primary source of income. This summer, I came face-to-face with the reality of God’s providing. Preparing our monthly budgets, I wondered how it would all work out. I mean, I could put it on paper, but it was still a theory. Would it work? And it has. Not because of me, mind you, but because of Him.
Time off is restorative, and so is prayer. Though I’ve taken vacation time in the past, I don’t think I’ve ever just had weeks of time without work. Oh, I know the kids and the house and all of that are work, but I mean work in the “go to an office” sense of the term. Since there was no income, I had to be careful with my running around (we don’t live in town, so getting to town involves not just packing the car, but also getting in the car), so there was not unrestricted “go here, go there” during my sabbatical. I did, however, get to spend time with my newest nephew, and I did get to just enjoy the days. There was “work” — writing columns at Today’s Catholic Woman and Faith & Family Live — but it was on my terms. It was a different rhythm of life, and in that different rhythm, I was able to find parts of myself long buried and partially forgotten.
Every morning, I held fast to my prayer time. Even when I was sluggish, even when the kids were bouncing around, even when it meant sacrificing other things. Between that and the time off from the office, I feel renewed. I needed a rest, and, after the rest, I feel restored and refreshed.
Peace is underrated. Happiness is overrated. ‘Nuff said.
I have the best jobs ever. My team at the parish office has left me alone. That’s easier said than done; there was only a two-week window of preparation before I was gone. But they have respected my distance this summer, and have been supportive in the most gentle ways. My husband did not once pressure me during this eight week window of time. An editor and a few writing friends encouraged me in tangible and loving ways. A few of you prayed novenas with me this summer.
I’m better for it.
If my life consists of juggling these jobs/vocations — wife, mother, parish employee, writer — then it’s a joyful cocktail of jobs. This summer, I realized that I have the best jobs ever, with some of the most inspiring and caring people, people I need in my life. Thank you, my dear friends. Thank you.
God put me where He wants me. In other words, I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Though I said I was taking the summer off to write, in my heart I knew it was a time of discernment. Truth be told, I was ready to just quit my parish job in June. I had had enough. Through the eight week journey, though, I’ve come to see that God has me in that parish office for a reason. Maybe it’s not about me at all. Maybe it’s about what He wants. (And when, I wonder, will I remember that lesson?)
Jen invented and hosts our Quick Takes fun every week, so go give her a visit at Conversion Diary.