The Summer I Needed

I still have several posts left to catch up on sharing my monthly favorites so far in 2022. However, since today is the last official day of summer, I wanted to take a moment to share how God worked in my life this summer. It’s crazy how quickly 3+ months flew by. Even though it’s been years since I’ve been a student and had a true summer break, summer still marks a distinct change of pace and routine. Back at the beginning of the summer, I had certain hopes and dreams for the season. There were certain ways I was praying that God would intervene in my life during this time. As is often the case, things don’t play out exactly the way I envisioned. But although Summer 2022 wasn’t quite the summer I hoped for, it was exactly the summer I needed. Keep reading for more!

A Bit of Backstory

The focus of this post is how God worked in my life during summer 2022. However, in order to fully convey the magnitude of God’s work in my life this summer, I have to take a step back to summer 2021. At the beginning of summer 2021, I was processing the loss of a promising opportunity that didn’t work out. Fast forward to the end of that summer, another promising opportunity had been unfolding in my life. In fact, this opportunity was an even better prospect than the one that hadn’t panned out a few months prior. I ended summer 2021 filled with so much hope, optimism, and anticipation towards what was next.

However, things didn’t unfold the way it seemed they would. The beginning of Fall 2021 was hard, really hard. I grieved the loss of another promising opportunity. Looking back, it’s truly God’s grace that sustained me during that low point. I ended 2021 on a good note with thankfulness to the Lord for seeing me through that season of crushing disappointment.

Then I started off 2022 with hopefulness and anticipation of what God might do. Since I had such a rough 2021, I hoped that perhaps 2022 would be “my year.” I hoped that some long-standing prayers would finally be answered.

But the first several months of 2022 brought a continued season of waiting, of feeling stuck and like God was being silent. In addition, early 2022 brought the loss of Blizzard, the sweet cat who was part of my family for 17 and a half years.

Summer 2022 Begins

Now that I’ve shared some backstory, I will go into more detail about how God worked in my life during Summer 2022. At the beginning of this summer, I hoped that the change in season would bring forth change in my life. Although 2022 hadn’t started off quite how I hoped, surely summer would be a good time for God to move, and to bring forth new opportunities in my life. I hoped that this would be my season of answered prayers, my season of “suddenlys.” Experiencing the excitement of various “almosts” back in 2021 made my heart’s desires even stronger, and the wait exponentially harder. Hence why I was beyond ready for God to act!

However, as weeks passed and my circumstances still weren’t changing, I grew resentful and bitter. I found myself questioning God and doubting His goodness. A recurring thought was: “I’ve been waiting so long, I’m beyond ready for the next season. But you STILL aren’t doing anything.” Comparison was also feeding into my negative perspective. I would see certain things happening for other people, and wonder why God wasn’t coming through for me. My anxiety levels were heightened, and I felt distant from God

A Turning Point

The turning point came mid-summer, when God used a couple people in my life to point me back to Him. I was venting to my long-time mentor about how I was frustrated with God because I felt like I could serve Him better if He would just open these doors I was wanting Him to open, and lead me to a new season. Her response was, “but how can you truly serve a God you don’t trust?” Wow! That comment really humbled and challenged me, and it continues to stick with me.

Around that same time, another sweet godly woman, who I’ve gotten to know better over the past year or so, sent me a really encouraging excerpt from a sermon she had heard that day. It was on Isaiah 40 and focused on how God is at work even when He seems silent, and He wants us to bring our complaints to Him. The following quote from the sermon my friend shared really resonated with me: “Do not use use your personal experience as a sole measure of what God sees, knows, and does.” That’s when it hit me that I had chronically been viewing God through the lens of my circumstances, rather than viewing my circumstances through the lens of God’s ultimate sovereignty. I was letting my circumstances harden my heart, and allowing discouragement and spiritual warfare have the upper hand.

Time in the Word

When my friend shared that sermon excerpt, I decided to go read Isaiah 40 in my Bible. The final verse in that chapter especially encouraged me:

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

While reading Isaiah 40 in my DaySpring (In)courage Devotional Bible, I also read a devotion that went along with the passage. When I went to the index to look up the author of the devotion, I discovered that this particular Bible had devotional reading plans in the back. The Isaiah 40 devotion was part of the “Hope in the Hard” reading plan. This is a seven-week reading plan that includes a passage and coinciding devotion for each day. It sounded like exactly what my weary heart needed in this season, so I decided that I would do this reading plan.

Starting that day and throughout the remainder of the summer, I made an effort to prioritize time reading my Bible and writing in a prayer journal. It didn’t magically make everything better, but it did make a positive difference. Spending time in God’s Word refreshed my soul. It has reminded me to view my problems through the lens of God’s sovereignty, as opposed to viewing God’s goodness through the lens of my circumstances!

Nuggets of Encouragement

Now I want to share more Bible verses and quotes from devotionals that especially encouraged me during the second half of summer 2022:

“The Lord is good and upright; therefore he shows sinners the way. He leads the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the Lord’s ways show faithful love and truth to those who keep his covenant and decrees.” -Psalm 25:8-10

“You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures.” -Psalm 16:11

“The light came when I let go of my quest to become…God met me there, prompting my surrender of my own plan and a willingness to follow Him into the unknown….In the process, He also built my faith. He always brings light and joy into darkness.” -Kristin Taylor, Devotional on Isaiah 9 in DaySpring (in)Courage Devotional Bible.

“You are being guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith–which is more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire–may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” -1 Peter 1:5-7

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” -James 1:2-4

The Summer I Turned Hopeful

An alternate title I had for this blog post was “The Summer I Turned Hopeful.” (Since The Summer I Turned Pretty was a hit Amazon Prime series of Summer 2022, I thought that would be a fun play on words!) In addition to being the summer I needed, I will always remember Summer 2022 as a time God taught me a lot about what true hope means. When I think back to one year ago, as Summer 2021 ended, I was hopeful. But in retrospect, my hope was based on my circumstances. I was hopeful because of a promising opportunity in my life that I thought would play out exactly how I desired. Because of this misplaced hope, I became deflated when everything came crashing down last fall.

I am also hopeful now at the end of Summer 2022. But in contrast, I don’t currently have any promising opportunities like I did at the end of last summer. I’m actually really weary and ready for the next season. Nevertheless, I am still hopeful because I am focusing on God’s faithfulness, both in my life so far and towards His people for centuries. One of my favorite things about God is His constant and unchanging nature. He “is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

I don’t know exactly when or how God will answer my prayers, but I can trust and rest in His sovereignty. He knows the desires of my heart, and exactly what I need and when I needed. And he knew that this summer, I didn’t need certain answered prayers. Rather, I needed true renewed hope in Him!

Over Labor Day Weekend, I read the following quote from The Beach Is Calling: 90 Devotions for Rest and Relaxation by DaySpring:

“God knows that for hope to sustain us for the greater things He has for our lives, it’s going to need some strengthening….In the process of battling through doubt, quieting our complaining, and going back to His Word to train our minds and to hold onto truth, hope learns to thrive.”

I feel like the above quote sums up in a nutshell how God worked in my life to refine my definition of hope this summer.

Parting Thoughts

I want to end this post by sharing a picture my best friend took of me at the beach during a girls’ beach weekend at the end of July 2021. This might sound vain and conceited, but it’s one of my favorite pictures of myself.

Golden Hour on the dock at Wrightsville Beach, NC

Honestly, what sticks out the most to me when I look at this picture is how happy I was that weekend. I was getting ready to pursue the promising opportunity of late summer 2021, which filled me with excitement. There were times during my rough patches over the past year where I would look at this picture and wish I could be that happy again. Even though I still love this picture, in retrospect I realize that the happiness I associated it with had a lot of its roots in my circumstances. Now, I can look at the above picture and remind myself that the joy I’ve experienced through learning to trust Jesus more this summer is far greater!

Speaking of this summer, here’s a photo taken on a girl’s beach weekend in late July 2022. This photo is almost exactly one year after the first photo:

Golden Hour in Emerald Isle, NC

Although my overall life circumstances may still be the same, a lot of inner growth, change, and healing happened between these two photos. It hasn’t always been pretty, and it definitely hasn’t been easy. But it’s been so worth it! And God gets all the glory!

As a bonus, Summer 2022 gave me some sweet memories of relaxing beach vacations, hours spent reading by the pool, and treasured time with friends and family. I will share more of my Summer 2022 highlights soon in more of my belated monthly favorites posts!

Farewell Summer 2022, and thank you for being the summer I needed!

Thanks for reading this post, and I hope it encouraged you. It’s honestly hard for me to adequately express in words the way God has worked in my life this summer. But I tried my best and hope this still gives a good glimpse of my journey. I know it’s been awhile since I’ve shared a deeper and more vulnerable post on the blog. If anything in this post resonated with you, please leave a comment, shoot me an email, or DM me on Instagram! And if you have a friend or loved one who you think would benefit from reading this post, please share with them!

-xoxo Liz

Hey Y'all!

I'm Liz- and I'm here to inspire you to embrace the simple joys in life and encourage you to be your authentic self!

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