“We have very different ideas of what it means to take a vacation. We always have.”
My husband’s words weren’t spoken in anger or judgment, but with resignation and a hint of frustration that we couldn’t see eye-to-eye on something so basic after twenty-five years of marriage.
The words reverberated through my head all week. How did we see vacation differently? Why was it so different? What was at the core of my definition of ‘vacation’?
God revealed something about myself through this pondering of the concept of vacation. I am achievement-oriented. I reject the label of ‘over-achiever’ because that implies routine success at achieving your goals and I would say, more often I have attained a ‘B’ – above average, but not quite there. I’ve always liked the idea of being achievement-oriented. Over the years, this focus has served me well in school, college and career. I have set my sights on the goal at hand and worked hard to achieve that goal – or at least something close to the goal. So why shouldn’t I apply the same goal-setting, task-planning, and dogged-determination to our family vacations?
God’s been talking to me a lot lately about relationships. How do we build them? How do we maintain and protect them from damage? What makes a healthy one and what is my responsibility for contributing to that?
Relationships aren’t about achievement. We don’t ‘win’ by getting married or creating a lifelong friend.
Relationships are about process. They are about the things you say and do on a daily basis that convey your commitment and your love for that person. You don’t ever reach the finish line. There’s no wreath of flowers around your neck, no gold medal, no winner’s trophy.
Being achievement-oriented is not very helpful to building relationships since there's no tangible goal to achieve. There’s just another day for us to forgive, serve, be vulnerable, trust, forgive again, and keep on working to build the relationship up. The more we put in to the relationship, the more joy and satisfaction we experience in it, whether it is our relationship with members of our family or with God.
God isn’t interested in us crossing a finish line, with Him waving a checkered flag and handing us a trophy – unless you consider the ultimate achievement to be passing from this earth! As long as we live, God is interested in the process, not the product. He meets us where we are and desires for us to grow – not to reach some brass ring of spirituality – but to build a relationship with Him. It’s a daily process of asking forgiveness, serving others, being vulnerable and trusting God. And asking His forgiveness again. Each day we must work to build the relationship. Not to earn salvation –that is a gift, not a prize to be won – but to grow closer to God just as we work to grow closer to our spouse or our friends.
I’m embracing the idea of re-defining vacation. Instead of planning an activity-filled, stress-inducing, marathon of family madness – I am going to sit in a hammock, read a book, and enjoy the breeze blowing off the lake as the sun sets on the water.
How about you? What’s your definition of vacation?