How is it that an innocent ten-year-old can make you feel an inch tall? I beat myself with the guilt whip for the rest of the day, determined to keep my cool despite anything and everything that could possibly go wrong doing so. A few days later, as we laughed and played on the side of a beautiful creek in the bowl of mountains where our tent was pitched, I gave myself a break. Although during my childhood we could never afford what people now seem to expect in a “vacation,” we did visit family for a week or two each summer, and I remembered my parents behaving the same way I had in the stress of packing and leaving on time. It must be written somewhere in some book called How to Be a Parent, that you must become so stressed out getting ready for a vacation that you make sure no one else really wants to take that vacation with YOU!
It isn’t just vacations. Why is that we can make every joyful occasion a trial to get through? What did you do just moments before you said, “I do?” Did you snarl at your mother? Did you snap at the best friend who came a thousand miles at her own expense to be your maid of honor? As a wedding musician I have been growled at more than once by the mother of the bride when I simply asked if someone could move the piano a foot to the side so I could see what was happening and know when to play what.
What happened the day of your precious child’s first birthday party? Did you forget that he won’t remember a thing about it and let yourself get so tired and stressed out you couldn’t even enjoy it?
I wonder how many couples would have gladly given up their 50th wedding anniversary celebrations so they would not have had to hear their children bickering at one another about it.
I am afraid this tendency of ours might also spill over into our preparation for that vacation we are all planning at the end of our lives. How are you spending your life today? Are you stressed out with a to-do list that gets bigger all the time, things that are good, that you feel you must do without fail or you are sinning because “To him that knows to do good but does it not to him it is sin?” Are you trying so hard to be all things to all people that you forget to be a wife or a mother or a friend? Do you think that being right and doing right means there is no appropriate time to say, “No?”
Being a child of God and a disciple of Christ means we must suffer at times. Yet as much as possible, God wants us to enjoy our lives. In the beginning he made a perfect place for his children, a place where everything was “very good.” That’s what he has always wanted for us. Sin ruined it, but he still wants us to be as happy as possible, even if just a little while at the time. But the only way we can is to recognize those times, and for goodness sake, don’t choose to ruin them!
Today, while you run those errands and do those good deeds, while you feed and care for the family you love and see to the needs of your suffering brethren, remember to enjoy each moment. You are packing for a real vacation, a time when things will once again be “very good.” Don’t let Satan steal the excitement with annoying neighbors, aggravating drivers, and stressful situations at work. Don’t give in to the temptation to whine and complain when things don’t go to suit you. People are watching you. Your children must deal with the effects of your frustrations. After watching your preparations, will anyone even want to think about going on that trip with you?
Then he said to them, "Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Neh 8:10.