Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Journey

This morning in a conversation with a younger friend of mine I said, "Life is usually far more about the journey than the destination." I reveled in being able to provide her a neat little encouraging bit of advice, then I felt like a hypocrite.

I recently commented that I love everything about travel except the actual travel. (i.e., I like destinations, not the journey.) My post got lots of likes on facebook, because apparently I am not the only one who feels that way.

I flashed back to our cross country trek last week. My husband and I were up packing until 11pm Friday night. K had a nightmare and couldn't go back to sleep, so I was up with her from 1:15am-2:45am. The alarm sounded at 4am so we could make it to the Atlanta airport for our 8am flight. Exhausted and worried about forgetting an important detail, we rushed through our journey with hungry tummies, checking off my lists, juggling groggy children, lugging too many bags and safety seats.

When we finally settled into our seats, the goal was to keep the children distracted/engaged so they didn't get bored and/or disturb others during the 4 hour flight. Upon arrival, we rushed to beat the crowd to get luggage and pick up our rental car before driving the 90 mile stretch between Orange County and San Diego. Even when we paused in Dana Point for a late lunch with a view, the stop was determined based on speed and ease of access back to the highway we needed to be on.

There was a brief break where we played tag on the grass between our restaurant and the beach. It is in my top three memories of our trip.

In our minds, 'the fun, family time' would begin once we arrived...but even then, my husband had meetings and I teetered on the edge of some of those same feelings: Just keep everybody happy, busy and engaged until Daddy is here for back up.

Once Daddy arrived my feelings became even more mixed: OK, let's go make some memories. Who is in charge now--me or him? Is everybody OK? What about me? Stop thinking about yourself! And on and on the crazy goes in my brain.

It was a metaphor for the way life can go for all of us if we aren't careful. With the very best of intentions, we are frequently rushing from thing to thing, bogged down by our stuff, striving to keep our kids busy/pleasant and out of trouble. We tell ourselves that if we can just get to the next chapter THEN we can rest and be the loving, kind, patient, (insert your favorite desired adjective here)...

But the clock is ticking and these days count. Most of our daily lives are the minutia...the getting up, getting dressed, preparing meals, paying bills, cleaning house, instructing your kiddos, taking out the garbage...it has to be done. Destinations are few and far between, but the journey is what dominates much of this life. How do we do THIS PART right without reducing it to a series of checklists?

Take kids to church. Check.
Teach them their manners. Check.
Family vacation. Check.
Tuck them in and make sure they know you love 'em. Check.

That's real life, but there is so much more...and I don't mean fancier destinations, I mean finding joy and purpose in the journey itself. It can't just be about the lists. It's too important. It must be bigger than that.

Pay attention.
Laugh out loud.

My friends Kelley & Cabell conspired to put one of my favorite verses on a sign for me for Christmas. It is in my mudroom as a daily reminder. The unfortunate irony is that I rush past it too many days without pausing to consider its implications...

We have to make flights and pack underwear. We have to pay bills and get people fed and to school on time...but let's not leave God out of this. Let's give Him all of us..."our everyday, ordinary life" and see what a difference it makes.


The Niemeyer Nest said...

Another post that I needed to read! I'm planning to link your post from yesterday if I ever get around to writing my summer schedule post.

The Burgess Family said...

I sure needed to hear these words today. Thank you for sharing a bit of your heart!