Thursday, July 17, 2014

thoughts on an imperfect holiday

Hi, friends! We're back from 2 weeks' holiday. We spent the first week at a conference for our uni Christian group, and last week at the beach at Apollo Bay.

There were many lovely moments:

- a wild wind blowing spray backwards from the waves
- the golden lights of evening on the harbour
- seeing the world "like a bird does" (as Thomas said) from the lookout
- sampling the best coconut ice cream ever
- jogging and walking along the beach.

Steve was sick throughout our holiday (he's had a rough year). In the end, he had to take anti-nausea medication. He's still sick - he's now on medication for gastritis - but he made it down to the beach a couple of times. I did my best to look after him, and help the kids to have a good holiday.

I used to think holidays had to be perfect. I'd try to capture that mood where body and mind are at peace, and there's nothing to disturb the feeling. It's not something you can get just by wanting, so I spent every holiday in a state of nagging disappointment.

There were also holidays of teary exhaustion because none of my babies ever slept away from home. And the time I fractured a bone in my foot (I was trying to put a piece of tomato down my brother's back at the time, so at least it was in a good cause). And the plague year when I discovered an allergy to midge bites. Yup, holidays aren't perfect.

I have learned to be thankful for imperfect holidays. Watching the kids splash in the freezing water in their wetsuits. Sitting with my daughter in a cafe, both sipping on spiced chai. A family game of Cluedo. I don't care if I'm sitting on a lump of hard sand, or the kids are bickering; I love moments like those.

We're taught to idolise holidays. We post photos of beaches on Facebook - #it'sahardlife - and wait for the "likes!" that hide our friends' envy. We work and save all year for a week at a resort. We're always in search of the perfect experience - the perfect location - the perfect rest. Like all idols, this one is empty and unsatisfying.

Holidays are good. They're a gift of God for our refreshment. They renew us so we can serve him. They give us meaningful time with family and friends. But they're not yet heaven. In this world, they will often be marred by illness and injury and dissatisfaction. They will always, in some way, disappoint.

There's a better holiday coming - a perfect rest - one where there will be no midge bites or arguments or illness. A holiday only hinted at by those rare, perfect holiday moments. A holiday that will never come to an end.

I, for one, can't wait.


Nada said...

Oh I hear what you are saying today, we were due to have a week away these past school holidays but my husband got pneumonia the day before we were scheduled to leave so in my disappointment we had to cancel. Even though my hubby was sick, the Lord gave us the most refreshing, relaxing week of snuggling up at home, just being together. It was lovely! Sometimes we think we have the best holiday planned then God changes the plans and shows us the best holiday.

Bec Nohra said...

So refreshing to read this Jean! Many of us seem to 'live' for holidays too. No wonder we get so disappointed. But your thoughts have been a helpful reminder to have the right perspective on all of life - including holidays.

Catherine said...

So, so true!! Thanks Jean!

Anonymous said...

yep - thank God for imperfect holidays - I don't think we've ever managed anything else.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jean. I sought this out again tonight after struggling to accept coming home early from yet another disappointing holiday. I was reflecting on how much I long for a holiday and place so much expectation on it to be perfect. I look forward to them as a "break from reality". As I pondered about how we idolise holidays the Lord reminded me of this blogpost you wrote and so I came to find it again. Thanks again for writing these words. Very timely and helpful. Love in Jesus, Ali Stone. x