This morning I am in a Fourth of July slow-mo hangover. To clarify, not an alcoholic H.O., I am just still trying to bounce out of that long weekend mode. Fourth of July is the epitome of summertime for me. It’s when all the best things about summer marry into one weekend, and you get the best of it all at once. (It is also true for me that once the 4th happens, I am looking ahead to football season, pumpkins, and cooler weather.) From the lake, to being outside from sun up to sun down, to the hot sticky sun and cooling off with popsicles, to jumping in every twenty minutes to keep from cooking in the sun, to tubing wars, water skiing, and night time bon fires, s’mores, and good friends to your left and right- I absolutely love the 4th. I can actually quite literally feel my skin radiating heat still this morning.
When I was a kid, we would always go out to Canyon Lake for the 4th with a group of friends I consider family to me, though none of us are actually related. These people are the second sets of parents I always knew would be to my rescue if need be. We all lived in the same neighborhood and would have block parties when we were really young and went to the same Lutheran Church in the town. Then, even when we all started moving to different areas of San Antonio and beyond, Fourth of July always stayed the same. We went to the lake house, we passed around the Yucca and listened to God Bless The USA as we would watch fireworks fly from all over the body of water, reflecting on the glassy lake below before dissolving into the dark abyss below.
Because of this, I feel like if I am not at the lake on the Fourth of July, then I am not celebrating the 4th correctly. There is just something so good about lake life, but especially so on America’s birthday. So this weekend, Paul and I packed up our bags and made our way out with some of our best friends to a lake an hour north to stay with a slew of unknown people at a massive lake home. It was one of those situations that we were lucky to be friends of friends who were invited, and we got to come out by association. We weren’t planning on going, it was unexpected, and we had no idea who all these people were that we would be with, but we decided to be uncharacteristically spontaneous. I do not do well with these situations usually. I don’t usually like being around large groups for an extended period of time, and I don’t do well with spontaneity. (This makes me sound like a terrible human being… I am just a planner and I am an INFJ.) I like to know far in advance if I am doing something like this to both mentally and physically prepare. But, for whatever reason, when we got a phone call Friday morning to go out to Lake Kiowa, Paul and I decided to do it. Old and new friends, 15+ of us were comfortably spread throughout a large b-e-a-utiful home on the water. We cooked large meals together, ate loads of bacon, and chatted over bowls of ice cream in our wet suits with bright red noses. It was comical how each of us had mutual friends from somewhere or something. Somehow the missionary from Thailand was friends with one of my best friends through Cru, and somehow a group from OSU knew all of the people I went to elementary school in Oklahoma with. This world is SO small. I absolutely believe the six person connection theory, and this weekend was almost scary how real and true that is.
As Paul and I drove home yesterday evening, we both were so at ease. Josh Abbott played on our phone, and we smiled as we stared out the windows at corn fields and a slower pace of life that people get to live out every single day on the back roads we found ourselves driving through. We decided that there was something so fun and refreshing to be with a large group of people we didn’t know. The conversations were fresh, the stories were new, and no matter who you found yourself sitting with, you had everything in the world to talk about because you had everything to learn. I love asking people’s stories, what they do, if they love it, and what their dreams and goals are. Our entire weekend was filled with life stories, life goals, and getting to know some incredible people. We were surrounded by missionaries, teachers, a rodeo team roper, non-profit owners, and so much more. I mean, seriously, we were surrounded by people so much cooler than us and it was so awesome to just soak it in. I love being pleasantly surprised like this- when stepping out of my comfort zone goes so well for me. It teaches me that being spontaneous is a good thing. It teaches me that there are so many people out there that I should meet, and that planning isn’t always the best avenue. Comfort and control don’t allow the freedom to do things like I did this weekend. This weekend’s trip was one of my favorite 4th of Julys I have ever had. It was new, it was refreshing, and we laughed constantly. It’s like we all forgot for just a couple of days what “real life” is like. We all got to drop our job titles for just a bit, and be people who just wanted to have a good time. We got to feel as though we had known each other for years despite the fact we had only known one another for hardly 48 hours.
I can’t explain it, but I feel like this weekend was just a taste of what heaven will be like. It was the crossroads of so many different stories and paths, all of us meeting up at the perfect time, having a party, intentionally pursuing friendships, and loving whole heartedly. It was fun, relaxing, refreshing. This weekend reminded me what matters most in life, and it particularly reminded me to be intentional. I have thought a whole lot about intentionality the past couple of weeks. I got to confess to a close friend over our morning coffee by the water that I had failed at being intentional over the last two years, and that it left me on an island. I got to talk through the hurt I had experienced that both caused it and was a repercussion of it. It made me thankful for friendships I have had for years in the midst of so many new ones, those people who are constant pillars in your life no matter what.
Community is everything. This weekend was the epitome of community. I hope to live like I did this weekend all the time. I pray for more spontaneity and more intentionality. I pray to live “Lake Life” day in and day out.