My five-year-old graduated from preschool today.
I know. We live in an “everyone gets a trophy” world, but guess what? I don’t care. It’s completely adorable and I am all about celebrating all the milestones. I mean… look at him.
So cute, right?
This was our first year with both kids in pre-k, so it feels like our first official summer, so I want to make it fun and memorable. Started a Pinterest board and everything. It’s legit. So if you have any fun (and cheap) summer activities, hit me!
I found myself trying to remember what we’ve done in the past few summers. I know kids grow so quickly, so the activities change, but I realized – I couldn’t remember. To be honest, the past two years are kind of one big blur. I can only label it as one thing: survival mode.
You hit survival mode when you have babies. You focus on sleeping and feeding the people in your house. And clothing everyone if you’re lucky. You run into survival mode when someone dies. You are rocked by the roller coaster of grief that shift but never really ends. The last five years of my life have been two babies and several very close deaths. And I didn’t notice that I was just focused on surviving until I wasn’t anymore.
I was tempted to feel sorry for myself. To believe that survival isn’t really living, and my kids have probably missed out on a great childhood because I was just figuring out how to get by. God promised an abundant life, right? So I must have missed it. And even worse, so have they. But more and more I really believe that it’s okay to just survive. Maybe we’ve got the picture wrong. God’s description of this abundant life is: “fullness until you overflow” [John 10:10 TPT]. No one ever said it would look beautiful or absent of stress or pain.
Our trials shift. The things we learn grow with time. Abundant life isn’t seasonal. A full life isn’t contingent on our circumstances lightening up. On resolving postpartum depression. Or passing through the stages of grief (which are continual, by the way).
To be honest, I think I missed it for a while. For several years straight, I looked to be filled with affirmation from adults who made me feel good. I missed out on what my babies had to offer me. I missed out on the fullness that comes with the survival season because I was just waiting for it to pass.
Hindsight is 20/20 or whatever, right? All I know is I don’t want to wait for my life to be full when Jesus has promised He’d be with me NOW. We’re missing it because we’re focused on choosing joy or being present while we’re drowning in diapers and laundry. We don’t need adjectives. We just need Jesus. We need to trust that Jesus isn’t the one holding back our full and beautiful life. Most likely, we are.
There is nothing wrong with survival mode. God knows you’re there, and He sees your reality. He knows what’s possible and what isn’t. But in your survival, He has more.
I can’t explain to you how it works. Because I am just beginning to understand what He meant. But He’ll show us, if we let Him. These survival seasons are super precious if we allow them to be. They keep us tethered to Him. Because what else do we have?
We’re all longing to hit that place. It looks different for all of us, but it’s past all the stuff, the survival season, the pain… the place where we feel like we’ve made it. That hopeful place feels like fulfillment, maturity, totally complete, right?
James 1 tells us how we get there.
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature, well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
These survival seasons are those gifts.
I don’t want to miss out on the fullness of God waiting to just get out of wherever I am. I want all of Him here and now. Because He’s promised me that. And He’s promised you. He is not limited by our seasons and His strength is at its best when we are at our weakest.
I think we tell ourselves that survival mode isn’t really living, but guess what? You’re surviving. You’re making it. Each day may be a fight, but let God in instead of just trying to get out, and watch as His fullness meets you right where you are.
“In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.”
[John 16:33 AMP]