I took a road trip. Actually I took two road trips with a four month vacation in the middle. I drove from California to Florida and back. I put approximately 7800 miles on my literally brand new car (my transmission blew on the old car one week before I was to leave on my adventure). I took two weeks each way stopping to see people I love and taking in amazing vistas. I had three different travel buddies who proved to be easy companions with patience for my driving (I am an excellent driver with an occasional attitude flare.) We ate at some very interesting and fun establishments along the way, avoiding chain restaurants so as to create new experiences and better stories. We stayed in a couple of very questionable motels along the way as well as one stellar night in Lincoln, Nebraska. (I loved that hotel…felt like a princess.) The best nights were spent with friends enjoying their company and incredible hospitality. We traversed hot arid deserts and vast mountain ranges, crossed many rivers and wound our way through forests. We navigated cities in traffic and spent countless hours flying across plains where we saw only a few cars for hours. I used my good old faithful atlas to plan and track the day’s journey, and activated my cars navigation system to get us through cities and highway transitions. We drove through days of clear blue skies, heavy gray clouds, dense fog, light rain, heavy rain and snow…sometimes on the same day. It’s one country, several states and as different as you can imagine.
Since I’ve been home I feel like I pulled in the driveway of my new house (not really new and not really mine…we’re renting) and climbed onto a high speed merry-go-round. I had spent five months in Florida slowing down my life. I drove a golf cart most of the time. On the road trip I had no time constraints and planned days of driving with moderation in mind. Getting back to LA was culture shock…everyone in a hurry, cars everywhere buzzing about, and me in a new neighborhood trying to find the nearest grocery store, bank, post office, gas station and Starbucks. I felt myself working up to a major attitude of resentment…its too much! I want to live on vacation! Yes, I’m retired but its not the same thing…unless I adjust my attitude…
Here’s the thing: life is really like a long road trip. We will sometimes have to navigate rough terrain and bad weather (like slippery mountain roads in the snow). Some days will be sunshine and breathtaking vistas (flying across Wyoming over green rolling hills). There will be seasons where we feel alone and times that are filled with people we love, new and old (seeing old friends and meeting Debby, the octogenarian waitress who worked with an oxygen tank over her shoulder). There are times when the navigation system is eerily quiet and it seems we are alone in the universe (“No signal”). There are situations where I know that I am not up to the task…I just can’t do it (heavy rain, inky darkness and road construction in an area that is utterly foreign to me), and days where it seems that I have the super power of road trip excellence because we found a great restaurant, saw stunning scenery and laughed ourselves silly. Along this road trip of life we experience all of it, no matter who we are or how awesome we believe ourselves to be.
As I am now navigating this new season of my life – turning a house into a home, caring for mom’s needs, finding a rhythm for self-care, discerning God’s desire for my life – it helps me to think of my days in terms of a road trip. Each day is different. Some are disappointing, like driving 10 hours out of our way to see Mt. Rushmore and finding it completely shrouded in fog. Others are glorious, like getting up the next morning and going back to find the great sculpture stunningly clear against a blue sky. The tough days we get through (with grit and God’s help) and the glorious days we drink in and let them fill up our souls. We learn to spend more time with people who fill us up and less time with those who drain us (not unkindly, but balance).
These days I am working at taking each day as it comes. I can choose to slow down, to minimize calendar clutter and to invest in the people who matter to me. I am working to become more aware of God in the big and little things. I am working toward a vacation kind of attitude. Might I encourage you to do the same…even if you actually have a job.
Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. 2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. 4 A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. 5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. 6 A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. 7 A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. 8 A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 9:7 So go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this!
Galatians 5:22-23 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Isaiah 61:1-2 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. 2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
Jeremiah 31:13 The young women will dance for joy, and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.