I’m on vacation right now. It’s the last full day at the beach and I’m typing this from the patio of our small condo. This experience has been a unique one. We’re in Galveston, TX and the beach here is… different. At least from all the other East coast beaches we’re used to. It’s kind of endearing to me because for all the Texas pride in the world, there just isn’t one square mile that can compare to North Carolina’s blue Atlantic or Florida’s pearly sand. But I like it here because if there’s one thing you won’t find in Texas (or arguably, the world), it’s Texans apologizing for the way things are in Texas. Galveston is a manmade beach, take it or leave it — so we’ve had a nice time here despite the mounds of seaweed . 😉 We’ve eaten way too much delicious food and cruised along the seawall in our rented Mini Cooper convertible at sunset (which. was. FABULOUS). We passed herds of cattle grazing on that drive, by the way. Because, Texas. Take it or leave it.
This time last year we were on vacation too and the life we were coming home to seemed about as ideal as it could get — new job for me, a productive and fruitful semester for John as he finished his final year at seminary. We were so thankful. And then things just didn’t go the way we thought they would. One thing led to another and before you know it, a few short months removed from sitting on the balcony with the sea breeze tickling our skin, we had hit rock bottom.
That didn’t make our vacation last year any better or worse but it does change the way I think about vacations. At the end of them, we will always return to our actual lives. We will re-enter the world of alarm clocks and packed lunches and laundry and busy days. We will do the best with what we have, plan based on what we know, and ultimately trust that God won’t let go of us.
Today I’m starting to really see the beauty in all of that mess. The planned uncertainty of our lives can make it an adventure or a headache — all depending on how you look at it and Who you trust with it. So long as the world you wake up to every morning is a disappointment to you, every vacation will be too. One of the greatest gifts we gain on vacation is perspective. Vacations are meant to be a getaway from the crazy normal but they’re also meant to be temporary. The purpose of vacations isn’t to fix us or our lives but sometimes I think we put that pressure on them. Which usually leads to us feeling emptier when we leave than when we came.
All the vacations in the world were never meant to rescue you from your ordinary life, but rather to help you savor it.
I don’t want to undervalue the blessing of rest and recovery nor underestimate the real need to get away from it all for a bit. It’s just that what I’m loving most about this vacation is even with all of the good things I find here, I am thankful for the life I have at home. Our ordinary lives are so full with people who matter, with work to be done, with plans to unpack by faith.
You may be reading this and your smack dab in the middle of crazy and you’re rolling your eyes at my feel-good sentiments about it. “Yeah, well. Just you wait til you get back home, girl.” I know, I know. I’ve encountered many a pile of dirty dishes and overflowing work emails upon returning from a nice vacation and I may be coming back to a frenzied cat who used our comforter as a scratching post. Honestly? Things could get a lot better or a lot worse when we get back home — but that has less to do with where we are and everything to do with how we live.
How are you choosing to live today, reader? Let me be just one person who encourages you to be grateful for it. And if you’re in the valley right now, don’t try and muster up some brave, happy notions — just focus on the small, simple things that get you through today. Trust me on this one — gratitude will always lighten your load.