THE SUMMER I DIDN'T PLAN ON HAVING
How I Learned That Hope Isn't So Crazy
The fog’s been pretty heavy around Santa Barbara. After two days of classes, it’s pretty clear that Summer 2011 is effectively over. It was a crazy summer, a busy summer, and most of all, an unplanned summer.
When I end up looking back on this past summer, I’m going to have a lot of good things to relive in my mind. The kayaking trips and the hikes. Greek Fest. The weekend trips to Anaheim, Santa Monica, and San Francisco. My cousin reunion. Leading a Bible Study over the course of summer also helped led me towards deeper relationships. I’ll remember a big week that consisted of delivering a talk and sitting on a forum about dating, singleness, and relationships. All while polishing up two papers and a final on the road to 28 units of summer school.
The relationships I formed were the best part. My three housemates and I got so much closer over the summer it was insane. I felt so closely connected to each of them. A bunch of random people turned into really close friends in a matter of weeks. I learned important lessons about forgiveness and hope.
It was a busy summer- easily the busiest summer of my life. But not a second of it was wasted. I felt like I made a lot of big steps forward. Personally, spiritually, even academically. All things together, it was one good summer.
And also, it was completely unplanned.
If you roll back to May, when I just returned to Santa Barbara after half a year in Argentina, I was practically just waiting for summer to start. It was going to be a good one… I just knew it. Here’s how it was supposed to go:
I would start dating a girl I had been friends with for quite some time. It was obvious to me that we had a stellar dynamic and it just made sense. I would also start working with the study abroad office. After all, I had done the study abroad thing twice, and was the catalyst for so many of my friends wanting to travel. While doing that I’d take a few extra classes and simply enjoy the Santa Barbara life.
None of those things panned out the way I hoped. Early on in the summer, I realized that I wouldn’t be getting the things I had hoped for. Not all of your expectations pan out.
But for me, they looked so good. They just made sense. I kind of had this picture in my mind of what the summer would’ve been like if those things did turn out. And that picture looked good. But when I had to come to terms with the fact that those things wouldn’t be happening, I again was faced to accept the fact that when we don’t get our expectations, it’s because something better waits for us.
But what could be better? I’m not gonna lie, that mental image I had? It looked pretty good.
Well, this summer ended up being a goldmine of growth and learning opportunities. I can’t really state just how much I grew, and in ways that I don’t think I could have if I had that job, or if that relational expectation was fulfilled. Those things would’ve taken up too much time and energy, and I never would’ve really appreciated summer 2011 for the treasure trove that it really was.
Instead, I was able to pour into and invest in my relationships with my three housemates, Ariel, Chase, and Derek. Each person kind of ran into a very different tough spot at some point during the summer, and the ability for us to be there for each other really strengthened bonds and helped each other grow. I wouldn’t even limit this statement to those three. There were a lot of other people that I grew close to. They really helped encourage me and I hope I did the same to them.
And we had fun. Bonding with people is fun. All those kayaking trips, and discovering the wonderful bargain that is SB Sail. Hiking was great. And all those trips to Borders we made to raid the place of their clearance sale books before the chain was closed forever. All those little things were in their own right, not-so-little.
And like I said, I learned some huge lessons about forgiveness and hope.
When the summer initially didn’t go the way I had planned, it was a real downer. I realized then that I really did have those expectations built up. There’s a Proverb that goes “a hope deferred makes a man’s heart sick.” It’s true. When we hope for things and don’t get them after seeing them coming, it can be sickening. But I like that it says deferred. That simply suggests that what you’ve been hoping for wasn’t canceled. It’s just going to be given to you at a different place and time.
Hopelessness can be a trap. Really. In a weird way, it’s easier than hope. Constantly trying to tell yourself that better things lie ahead can feel like insanity- like you’re trying to make something true just by telling yourself over and over again that it is. Hopelessness gives us this little padding. You can’t have your expectations broken if you don’t make any at all, right?
I’d say hope is far from crazy. Especially after this summer. Even if I didn’t get all the things I expected, believing that they were simply for another place at another time kept me going. There were things I had to do and things I had to learn in the time being. The story I would live over this summer would be even better than the one I thought I was going to live. And that seemed tough to beat.
This summer has been incredible. Definitely not what I expected, but incredible nonetheless. I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy over the course of a summer, and I’m going to be busy this fall. But the hard work’s paid off. In part, it helped get me the awesome job I’ve just started at.
When I end up looking back at this summer, I’m going to remember all the different people I got a lot closer to. I’m gonna remember the role I got to have as the Men’s leader for Summer Real Life, and I’m gonna remember what that taught me about investing into different people in unique ways. I’m gonna remember the summer Love Dungeon four, and how I learned that a good group of people who truly care about each other and look out for one another is a wonderful thing. I’m gonna remember how I learned to ditch bitterness and resentment and reembrace forgiveness and grace. I’m gonna remember learning a lot about dating and relationships… so much that I apparently needed a whole forum to share it with people. I’m gonna remember how I learned that even though we don’t always get what we’re expecting, hope isn’t crazy.
I’m gonna remember kayaks, flipped kayaks, seals on buoys, First Amendment Law classes, waffle experiments, painting the supershelf lime green, Cousin Weekend, the Angels game, LACMA and MOMA SF, San Francisco weekend, the weekend Keith and Nat came to SB, Cold Spring Tavern, my obsession with the Blue Owl, guys’ nights downtown and doing sketchy things on the pier, our Santa Monica visit, seeing The Mountain Goats finally, and the Greek Festival, and 28 Units, and basketball with my housemates, and Whole Foods, and Mac’s Fish & Chips, and Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles, the 4th of July mashup of friendships, and the Seven Falls hike, and the other Seven Falls hike, and the jazz cruise, and 49ers game, and the Runyan Canyon hike, and paddleboarding, and crawfish, and ghetto lemonade, and family dinners, and the one time I made avocado bruschetta that everyone loved, and the one time Ariel and I made “Dungeon Drank” that everyone was weirded out by, and cucumber water and cucumber lime agua fresca, and core meetings, and courthouse picnics.
But looking back on it, I think it’s safe to say some beautiful things happened. This was a huge summer of growth. And it was a very fun summer at the same time. What happened was, as hard as it is for me to believe, better than what I expected to happen- albeit completely different. I know if I actually got things my way, I’d have lost the time and energy that it took to make this summer what it was.