If we' re really honest, a family vacation isn’t really a vacation for those of us who are mommas. For better or worse, mothers by our very nature have defined roles and the venue doesn’t really change the job description. No matter the age of our kids or how long we’ve been married, we're the planners and the managers and the executers and the cooks and the cleaner-uppers and caregivers…this is not a complaint…it’s simply reality. And while a vacation does take us away from the countless distractions of home and our time together as a family can be very life-giving and wonderful, it’s not the most restful and restorative time for moms. To truly be a vacation, mommas need time with no planning-no executing-no nothing; being free to do what we want, when we want it.
I’ve just spent ten days in the Hawaiian islands with my family thanks to the milestone of twenty-five years of marriage…and after those ten days I pulled up to the curb of the airport, brushed the sand off their shoes, hugged each of them goodbye and they headed home… and I pulled away from the curb and headed straight for the beach…by myself…no plans…no agenda. I had a few projects I wanted to work on relating to work and writing but mostly I did what I wanted when I wanted…I had time and space to sleep or read or walk or eat or shop or swim or write; when it worked for me and no one else.
I had time and space to settle into myself and remember that I’m content just as I am and taking care of others or my job or my family or my friends does not completely define me. I’m defined by simply being myself and being loved by my creator, the God of heaven and earth. And sometimes it takes a few days in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to be reminded of this exquisite truth.
I’m very much aware that I live in a very indulgent culture;I live with the tension of knowing many of my friends in places like East Africa, Southeast Asia, Northern India and Latin America don’t have the luxury of taking a couple of days to lay on a beach gazing at their navel contemplating their place in the universe. But I also know that many of those cultures have the advantage of understanding sabbath and rest and it’s incorporated into their life much more so than the culture in which I live…some of the most deeply restful times of my life have been sitting under a mango tree in Uganda after a weekday lunch deep in conversation or playing word games with Filipino friends as the rain pummeled the tin roofs in Cebu late into the day.
On most days, I desire to live out the great purpose of serving and loving others in various aspects of life --- family, home and job -- and I truly love it–but it requires a lot of energy and effort and I work really hard at being good at it. I want to make sure there’s joy in it and I never ever lose perspective or become resentful and life slowly becomes drudgery. But more than anything, I want to be okay being still and savor knowing myself and that I matter in the world. Taking time to do this in the South Pacific is a remarkable gift that doesn’t come along very often…but I’ve been reminded that taking time to set myself apart to breathe in the beauty of God and my purpose is vital to the contentment that I seek out of this life.