In retrospect, it wasn’t the best vacation.
Last summer the family and I were ready for some time together. It had been a wildly busy year for all of us, and due to our busy schedules we had lived like roommates or co-workers rather than a family. Piano lessons, meetings, conferences…it wasn’t just that we were busy, but that when we were together even then we still seemed like we were all doing our own thing. So, our hope was then that our vacation time in Chicago would enable us to not only relax, but more importantly, reconnect.
So in preparation for the week in Chicago, I worked hard to get us a week chock-full of fun events together. Tickets to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, days at the museums, riding public transportation together as an “event” (ok…clearly I was reaching on that one) and all manner of food experiences. Each and every day we scheduled plenty of events and experiences that would give us quality time together.
Unfortunately though, it didn’t really happen that way. The majority of our time together I was admittedly distracted and a bit distant. It felt to me like I was constantly in what I call “business mode” for the whole week, and that in my desire to make time for us as a family, I had instead just over-scheduled our life again. And so at the conclusion of our vacation, I vented to Heather about why the vacation had not felt relaxing and what had been wrong with it all. “There was just too much going on,” I reasoned, “and in the future we need to make sure we don’t do anything active on vacation…you know, so we can really see each other.”
And at the time, this made sense. My reasoning was quite clear in my mind…I had not been able to really relax and be present with them because of our schedule. There was just too much happening, and too many things to do. If we just had nothing planned or scheduled well then I could have really been more available to them. Etc…
But you know what?
I was wrong. I was about as wrong as I could be. I realized this week that I was wrong about not only why I had been distracted on vacation, but also about why a vacation was needed in the first place.
See, the mistake I made both on vacation and in my ordinary day-to-day life was that quality time with family is something that needs to be scheduled like everything else. That quality of relationships and paying attention to those that you value and love is a thing that requires a particular place and time, and so if that didn’t happen in Chicago well, it’s just because we didn’t have a special time set aside for it!
But that simply is not true.
I realized this week that if quality of time with my family requires special scheduling then I’m doing life wrong.
Because quality time with people in your life should never be just one thing out of many to be scheduled and added in, but it should be how you do everything. It’s not a particular event to be put in place, but it is the way that all of our lives should happen, right? The real question is not “How do I set aside quality time for people?“, but instead “How do I make all my time with people quality time?” It’s not about vacation or everyday life, but it’s about how to do that all the time…in each and every moment.
Showing love to people isn’t one thing out of many, but instead it’s how we should do everything.
I had this realization this week after reading our Scripture passage for Sunday, because of a point that the Apostle Paul makes in his letter to the church in Corinth. “If I give away all my possessions, but don’t have love” he writes to them “…I gain nothing.” Paul’s meaning in this is that even if you have everything but still don’t have love, then you still have nothing. Love, then, is not just one way to follow Christ, and it is certainly not one option for the church in how to live and be in the world. Instead, it is how we should do everything. Nothing should be done without love. It is not a special event to be scheduled among many, but it is how every thing should happen.
I think this is right, and it’s as true for us today as it was for those in Corinth two thousand years ago. What would our lives look like if we loved in every action? Wouldn’t the ordinary and everyday become just saturated with the sacred? Wouldn’t even a vacation be not necessary for us to live how we want, but instead be just a new way of doing what we do every single day? Think how life would be different if we too understood Paul’s words when he wrote that “love never ends.”
We’ll see you on Sunday as we continue celebrating and learning to live into love.