A few weeks ago, my dear sweet husband and I got to take a trip we have been dreaming of for years. It was a trip that was intended to redeem our honeymoon. (You know.. the honeymoon where there was a hurricane and we got kicked out of our resort, moved to another, all the restaurants and room service closed, had to attend resort-wide meetings, and could stand in water that was at least a foot deep. Yes. That was our honeymoon.) Now don't get me wrong. It was actually a really sweet time. Our first time to vacation alone and a sweet week of rest after a busy wedding season. Other than the fact that we were reprimanded pretty intensely by our parents for not letting them know we were alive in the hurricane, it was a pretty good time. We watched the Titanic on Mexican television, ran to the buffet in our rain jackets for our meals, took baths and read books, and laughed hysterically at our misfortune.
Basically, our honeymoon only needed to be redeemed because we got moved around so much that it was hard to settle and because we wanted some good tropical sunshine and lazy days on the beach and by the pool. So we saved up our Southwest points and set out to redeem our trip. The date was set for the day after my grad school comps and we were absolutely stoked.
We headed out at 4 am on a Wednesday morning for Punta Cana. All we had planned was to lay on the beach or by the pool with a cocktail in one hand and a book in the other and eat delicious food and rest. Sounds heavenly, right? We thought so too. And when we arrived, it was bliss. Seriously. No hurricanes, no boarded up windows, the clearest and most beautiful pool of all time, crystal blue waters, the works. We were elated.
And then, we did the unthinkable. Instead of being uber content with the bliss that we had, we got the itch for more. "If we took them up on their promo offer, we could get a free romantic dinner on the beach." "If we'll go stay one night at their sister resort, we'll get free massages when we come back." Etc, etc, etc. We completely lost sight of our agenda of rest and took off like a rocket trying to trade up and get more. Not only that, I think we even lost sight of who we are. Not a good start.
Now, I will insert one paragraph in here that I love about what we did with taking up the promo offer and visiting the other resort. (And it will only be one paragraph because there's only one thing that I love about it!) Josh and I are getting braver. Honestly, we're getting safer with each other too. We are more able to risk and fail and make mistakes (like abandoning our agenda for rest!!!), and I have to admit... I love that about us. Gone are the days where anxiety ruled this relationship and spouses have to be perfect. Praise the Lord, seriously. And hoooooray for secure attachment!
Anyway, in our little healthily attached selves, we totally lost sight of what was important. We traded our room for the promo, spent the night at the other resort which we didn't even love, had to pack our bags up three different times, and boy oh boy, did we ever learn some good lessons. It's ironic, really. I wrote a post three weeks TO THE DAY before we left about how I was leaning into surrender and learning to rest and play and breathe. And I was doing that, at home. And when we stepped on that plane, I forgot. I completely forgot. The Lord had been so patiently speaking to me about resting in His presence and not choosing on-the-go as a lifestyle. And what did I do? I chose on-the-go not only as a lifestyle but as a vacation. What is wrong with me?!
In essence, and I hate to admit this, we became ungrateful people, always wanting bigger and more. We totally outsmarted ourselves in trying to make the perfect vacation and it was approximately day 3 when I turned to Josh with big crocodile tears in my eyes and said, "I just want to feel settled." And he held me and I cried. Big, ugly vacation tears.
Vacation tears because I wasn't settled. Vacation tears because we were reliving our honeymoon (packing, resort hopping, unpacking, packing again) instead of redeeming it. Vacation tears most of all because I didn't listen. I didn't listen to the still, small voice in my spirit telling me that rest and connection were all I needed. I thought I needed more. And if I'm honest, it's the same lesson as before with only a little twist. Still surrender, yes, but add a dash of thankful and a heaping handful of contentment as well.
My Josh, who I'm convinced is a saint by nature, and I were recounting all of the lessons we had learned as we were walking to the pool on day 4 of our trip and he turned to me and said, "Godliness with contentment is of great gain." Luckily, I was done crying by this point so I didn't turn and smack him when he said it. And now, I've been thinking about it ever since. What would our lives be like if we lived with thankful hearts, content in all we've been given instead of giving into the temptation that constantly seeps into my weasel brain that I can trade up, get more, have better?
So here we were, day 5 of our trip, a mere 24 hours before we headed home and I finally let go. I went back to waving my white flag again, thankful for a God who gives grace upon grace upon grace for people like me who need it every day. And you know what? It was the best day of the whole trip. I rested. I sat on the beach in the early morning hours and spent time alone with the Lord. I basked in the sunshine and dominated an entire novel. I ate dinner on the beach with my sweetheart for hours upon end and when we didn't like that food, we had second dinner at another restaurant, complete with the best desserts at the resort. It was a day like we had dreamed of for years. Even in the midst of being stubborn, forgetful, silly people. What a kind God we must serve.
So now we're home again, back to our regular weeks and messy jobs. And here I'm standing, in the midst of it all, vacation tears dried and white flag waving again. Deeply leaning not only into surrender, but into thankfulness and contentment as well. And I have a feeling this next season will be the best yet.