my family went to branson this summer, which we are finally officially gonna make our annual trip. we like it cause it's fun, an easy drive, not too busy, and we basically know the area (and for a travel-lover like myself, the idea of knowing a city i don't live in well enough to get around without a gps has me like where's my contract with a travel journal or something??). anyway, this trip was quite different than our past family vacations...
you remember when you were a kid and you and your siblings (only-children you can skip this section with your smug selves lol) were always fighting over something super dumb, and you'd complain to your mom and she'd tell you that it'll all be better when you're older? maybe that's first-child advice, but the affects of it are felt by anyone with siblings, or just a family for that matter. children fight. they fight over anything and everything. they fight over who gets to play with the newer toy, who gets to be line leader, who gets the bigger cookie and who has to clean up after eating all the cookies. but then they get older. and little old me thought that every year would be the year we were all mature enough to get over ourselves and act like adults. there were two things a little off about my logic: one, i was already mature for my age, and two, being a year older doesn't necessarily change much more than the number of candles on my birthday cake. but let me set the scene for you a little better...
i was born in 2000 (am i salty that i missed the cutoff to be a 90s baby? yes, yes i am. though honestly 2000 is just a bonus '99 so i still count it), and i have 3 younger siblings. one 18 months younger, brianna, josh, who's 6 years younger than me, and gabi, who is 8 years younger than me. simply put, i struggled to relate to each in unique ways, age aside. we are all similar but also very different. i don't have the time or space to share my whole story, and honestly, i don't actually think you feel like reading it (but if you are, comment and lemme know, i'll share some more nuggets). point is, all of us mayes kids have gaps between us, and in more ways than just months and years. but hey, such is life. and lemme tell ya, life smacked us in the face on this vacation.
like most people, i've always had this unspoken, subconscious belief that problems don't exist on vacation. it's a time to ignore emails from your boss, forget your phone at the hotel and not care, read without thinking about a to-do list, and binge your fav show (all american, anyone??). well, i did all of those things, but one thing that i could not escape from is family issues. turns out, where your family goes, so too do their problems. we struggle with communication, pride, interrupting, and listening well, amongst other things of course. but the biggest struggle of all is our humanity.
humanity is why we are broken, and it is what keeps us broken. humanity takes brokenness and fashions it into a weapon, and a shield when someone returns fire. it makes hurt people hurt people. my family is composed of humans and therefore, humanity. humanity, and therefore, brokenness. brokenness, and therefore hurt. hurt, and therefore hurting others. it's a cycle, and one that is not unique to my family, as my mom often has to remind me. "every family has their problems." she's not wrong, but it's hard to imagine, because no one broadcasts their brokenness. people aren't all over social media trashing their step-siblings and ranting about their stepdads. or maybe they are, and i just don't follow those people cause i ain't got the time for that negativity! point is, we're all screwed up in our own special ways, and all of our areas of weakness are the spaces that make room for the gospel of love, redemption and peace to fill our voids.
my family's brokenness was felt during our vacation. trying to stay positive was a feat, and the energy it took to put on a happy face when we left the condo was spent long before the week's end. so we decided to stop trying.
like any normal person with sentiment, we took photos during our vacation. my mom, however, decided to take a different approach to your classic photo-documentation of family vacation. we took our regular old "everybody-is-so-happy-to-be-here" picture, and then we took a "now-show-me-how-you-really-feel" picture. needless to say, a few faces dropped... but it was a reminder at every event, attraction and restaurant that it was not just necessary to acknowledge our real feelings, but that is was okay to express them. so we did. was it messy, and irritating, and annoying? heck to the freaking yes. but it's okay. you know why? because we are human. we still are. we are the most gracious humans when we are willing to acknowledge the humanity in others, because how can i expect you to talk to me and treat me like a whole, healthy person while simultaneously wounding you? that's unfair. i know i know, "life isn't fair," but that doesn't mean i can't be.
so vacation, right? i had to leave a day early because i had work the next day (hey siri, play "deliver us" from the prince of egypt"). i was glad to leave, because vacation was a mess. because humanity is a mess. but these humans are my humans, they aren't going anywhere and neither am i (ignore the fact that i literally left). what is my point in all this? not entirely sure, so i guess i'll give a recap:
1. i would love to work for a travel journal
2. we may grow out of childish fights, but that doesn't mean we grow out of fighting altogether, and that's okay as long as we learn how to listen well, and not dwell on these disputes
3. problems don't disappear when you leave the city, or state, or country. they go where your humanity goes, and that's okay because you're human
4. humanity is why we are broken, and it is what keeps us broken. humanity takes brokenness and fashions it into a weapon, and a shield when someone returns fire. it makes hurt people hurt people.
5. our brokenness leaves room for the gospel of love, redemption and peace
6. it's not just necessary to acknowledge our real feelings, it's also okay to express them.
7. "deliver us" from the prince of egypt is slept on and i stand by that
my friends, humanity is okay. humanity is also inevitable, so embrace it. i'm not saying give into your fleshly desires, but i am saying that we are humans with thoughts and feelings and emotions for a reason, so invite Holy Spirit into them to redeem your brokenness as only He can. it might take a little longer than a week vacation, and draw you further from your comfort zone than branson, missouri, but hey, that'd be too easy. that's why we need vacation, amiright??