I’ll never forget the excitement of the last day of school. Not only was it a rite of passage to be celebrated each year, but it also ushered in a time of much-needed respite. As a youngster, completing a grade brought a sense of accomplishment, achievement and even acceptance. When your final report card was handed to you on the way out of the door, you knew nothing else could be done about your final grades. Basically, it meant that you either had a great summer ahead of you—or you were being set up for summer school misery!
It is no secret that this year’s report card in the school of life looks extremely different. We have all been battered and bruised from the tides of disruption as we embrace another season in our “New Normal.” Although the weather has warmed up, we are still being bombarded with news about closures, re-openings, self-quarantine and the ever-changing phases of this ongoing pandemic.
I’ve discovered that a crisis has a way of releasing unusual creativity. It is as though the growth we experience, though often painful, is worth the risk of the challenge in front of us. As a pastor, I have been tasked with the unique predicament of instilling hope into the hearts of my congregation. As I work toward this goal, however, I realize that some things have not changed: our longing for intimacy, belonging, and community.
This summer, I’ve made it my mission to be intentional in enjoying what life has presented me despite the fact that it looks radically different than what I expected. I simply refuse to flunk the class! Obstacles are a part of life. However, when we have faith we can turn those obstacles into opportunities. Here are a few tangible ways to do that this summer.
Pray Daily. This pandemic has taught me how to engage in prayer differently. It was the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard who said, “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” I’ve found that I have become much more patient as a husband, a father, and a pastor by committing to a lifestyle of prayer. Although this may look different for all of us, it has preserved my peace of mind with everything swirling around me. I have found prayer to be an anchor for my soul in a time filled with swift transitions.
Read Widely. In her book, How Reading Changed my Life author Anna Quindlen said, “In books, I have traveled, not only to other worlds but into my own.” Reading broadens our perspective. It enables us to leave our world without ever leaving our seats! During this time, I’ve engaged both fiction and non-fiction books to refresh my creativity and imagination. Normally I’ll read fiction for creativity and courage and I’ll read non-fiction for strategy and ideas. While we all are consuming a lot of content these days, make sure to invest in your literary experiences.
Laugh Often. One of the things I’ve learned during this time is to cherish every moment! My wife and I intentionally take time to just share stories and make each other laugh. It has been therapeutic for us. Whether it’s watching a movie, remembering an old joke, or watching our newborn, laughter has become a defining staple in our home during the quarantine. We simply can’t live without it! I believe Madeline L’Engle said it best, “A good laugh heals a lot of hurts.”
In essence, I pray that this season brings you much-needed respite and renewal. Whether it’s a backyard pizza party or a simple stroll in the park, make memories that matter. Be comforted in knowing that it’s in the simplest of life’s pleasures that we find true joy. Don’t flunk the school of life. Enjoy your summer.
Bishop D. A. Sherron, an educator, entrepreneur and author, is the founder and senior pastor of Global Fire Church in Brooklyn, New York. He lives in New York City with his wife, Adara Sherron, a counselor and social media influencer, and their daughter Sophia Rose. For more information, visit www.dasherron.com.