You’ve had the dates marked on the calendar for months by now. Maybe you’ve put down a deposit, bought plane tickets, or simply reserved a shelter at a campsite. No matter how fancy or regular your vacation is, chances are you intend to take one over the next few months.
While you google your way through Disney tips and take notes on how best to pack your suitcase, here are a few good reminders for your soul as you prepare for your vacation.
1. Vacation is more mindset than destination.
You know it’s true because you’ve heard moms yell at their kids on the beach. And also you’ve been the mom yelling at your kids on the beach.
You’ve had a grumpy old man tell you off for taking his chair on the deck of a cruise ship in the middle of a Caribbean paradise.
If all we needed was a great destination in order to take a real vacation, then everyone on vacation would be happy, peaceful, and good.
But you’ve felt the deep sadness in the sunshine. You know the worries that follow you to the shore. No matter where you go, the list-making, future-looking, failure-rehearsing whir can follow you.
It isn’t the place that brings peace. Only Jesus can do that.
This can be a relief rather than a burden, because it means we don’t need fancy to take a real rest.
2. Vacation starts on Tuesday.
We tend to think vacation is like a week-long Saturday. And it kind of is. But the best vacations start on the regular Tuesday before you leave, the one you spend at home doing laundry, the one where you are packing your bag and preparing your heart for what’s to come.
Walk outside your front door and let the sun highlight your hair today.
Let the minutes pass as you sit and watch the little ones play.
Stand with your feet in the grass and your face to the wind, close your eyes and breathe in deep. The gifts are waiting quiet in small places. Pause to see them. Pick them up and turn them over. Discover the beauty of slow right where you are.
Because if you can’t settle in to your real life, you won’t be able to settle in on vacation.
3. Maybe stop trying to take a vacation and instead, let your vacation take you.
In other words, let your vacation be what it wants to be rather than you forcing it to be something it isn’t.
Before I leave for vacation I tend to make big plans in my mind: we’ll see this, we’ll eat that, we’ll explore there. I even go beyond events and move into experience: the kids will love this, that meal will be romantic, this night we’ll connect. I will feel rested, lovely, and free!
And then I wonder why two days into vacation I’m grumpy, overly sensitive, and just want to be alone.
All vacations are not created equal. A weekend with girlfriends is different from a weekend with my extended family and all of our kids. It helps to hold all plans with an open hand and move to the relational rhythm of the group I’m with.
Low on expectations, high on love.
4. Your vacation wants you to know that rest takes courage.
Whether you are headed to the coast or if the only vacation you get this year is Saturday and Sunday at home, it’s good to remember that rest doesn’t always come easy. Sometimes it only comes after a fight. The fight isn’t against a person, but an idea — the idea you have in your head that to rest is lazy, useless, or a waste of your time.
You have to fight for rest, and sometimes the fight looks like sitting on the rug with a deck of cards or starting at the ocean for no good reason or sitting by the window without a to-do list in your hand.
Spend a little time letting the sea smooth out the jagged edges that have formed within and around you. Let the salt burn the wounds, let the sand rub off the dead skin, let the nighttime hold you still and quiet until the first light of morning shows up with all her promises.
Let your vacation be a gift, not an expectation. Open hands, light touch, kind heart.