Photo courtesy of http://www.canadianfamily.ca/

The vacation cycle:

  1. Wow, vacation is close – it will be so great to just be together and enjoy each other’s company!
  2. How on earth am I going to finish all this work before vacation? Is it a problem if we pack dirty clothes instead of clean ones?
  3. I know – we are always late because I can’t juggle it all … WAIT, I forgot my phone charger!  TURN AROUND!
  4. No, we aren’t there yet.  Sure, watch another movie. Yes, I know you’re hungry … again.
  5. Oh yay!  We’ve arrived … I can’t wait to get out of this car and get some distance from you people.
  6. Oh wait, I actually AM excited to be with you people!
  7. Work?  What’s that?  Emails?  Haven’t checked them. I’m too busy laughing with my kid and having great talks with my husband.
  8. I love you guys so much!  This is the best vacation EVER!
  9. When we get home, we are going to change how we do things… no technology nights, game nights, stop saying yes to every commitment, watch our spending, make a weekly menu and stick to it, save for a king sized bed because I don’t know how we have survived marriage this long without one…
  10. Ok, we’re home … tomorrow I have to do this and this and this … guess I’ll see you in passing.

This year we broke the cycle.  Maybe it’s because the three of us didn’t drive 800 miles together on the way there or maybe it’s because we were starved for family time.  Maybe, but here’s what I think happened…

My perspective has changed.  Having a chronic illness has altered perspectives that I used to have, but the biggest one is appreciating what is right in front of me.  It’s SO EASY to get stuck in a rut of focusing on what hurts and how bad and if I need pain lotion or if I can make do without it, or calculating out what things I can/should accomplish in a day making sure I don’t over-do it to create problems for the following day.  Now I try to do the following:

  • allow myself to be honest and assess my pain throughout the day, giving MYSELF grace along the way
  • when I feel myself sliding into that rut, I recite memorized scripture to remind me that God loves me and that I am wonderfully created
  • focus on the things I CAN do and things I DO have, and thank God for those things
  • I am honest with my husband and I don’t hide my frustrations

Transparency and grace are the key components.  My husband and I have given each other permission to be honest and transparent with each other.  Neither of us know how to do this chronic pain thing (our manuals got lost in the mail). Purposefully hurtful statements are not allowed, but honest confessions of frustration are totally game.  There’s no need for anyone to be on the defensive, this isn’t a blame game, it’s a grace game.

We don’t get do-overs.  Every moment in this life counts.  This year we recognized our frustrations on vacation and communicated appropriately about them.  We gave each other space when needed.  We loved more than we bickered.  It wasn’t perfect but it was so much better than last year.  Memories are made both at home and on vacation.   I want to be stuck in a grace rut, because those are the memories I want to remember.

So what kinds of memories are you making?

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