Think back on the past six to nine months. Take time now to reflect. Don’t rush — take a few days to think through these.
- What positive, joyful moments can you remember from this year?
- What painful, embarrassing, or grievous moments can you remember from this year?
- Consider jotting down a few notes about these memorable events. As emotions arise, present them to the Lord. He may have an invitation for you through them, or you might like to just hold them before him.
- Have you built helpful actions, patterns, or habits into your life this year? Make note--and good job, you!
- Do you recall any unhelpful or destructive actions, patterns, or habits that have arisen this year? Pause and ask God what next step he might have for you in those.
Listening to the Present
The different pace of summer brings with it an opportunity to pay attention carefully — to our senses, our relationships, and our spirits. Engaging fully in the present moment will help us to connect with ourselves, others, and God.
- What will help you to soak up the summer most fully?
- food (smoky burgers, cold ice cream, juicy watermelon)
- activities (swimming, hiking, biking)
- recreation (gardening, theater, camping)
- work (writing, thinking, reading)
- rest (naps, hammocks, sunbathing)
- Who are the people around you to whom you'd most like to pay attention? Perhaps God might be inviting you to take special care with your closest relationships, to deepen some casual acquaintances, or to stretch yourself with a friendship with someone new.
- Consider ways to fully engage with your community, your friends, and your family. Look into their eyes. Listen without thinking about your next response. Read a book aloud together. Tell stories near a bonfire. Relish picnics.
- Consider how you can live in your body better. Is God inviting you to enjoy preparing eating differently or finally getting that physical care you know you need.
The less-structured space of summer is the perfect time to do some true soul-searching. We all need to take time periodically to examine our lives deeply.
- Consider taking a retreat to examine your life. It might be a scholarly or spiritual conference. You may wish to set aside a few hours in a coffee shop or a few days at a retreat center.
- Journal through some probing questions, read a book with spiritual depth, or just sit and breathe.
- If you run into emotional or spiritual barriers, remember that there are resources. Talk it over with a spiritually mature friend or pastor. Consider the possibility of meeting with a therapist or a spiritual director.
This post is excerpted from “How to Plan Your Summer for Growth” at The Well.
Ann Boyd is the Women Scholars and Professionals Podcast host and the managing editor for The Well, an online resource for Women in the Academy and Professions. She has worked for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship since 1997 and lives in Chicago with one husband, two spunky teenage daughters, and two snuggly cats.