My family and I just got back from a week at the beach. Thanks to our early-rising human alarm – for some reason my 3-year-old seems to think the day must start before 6:30 am – we took full advantage of the waves, a large pool, and a balcony that was great for picnics and reading and people-watching. We ate great seafood. We took naps. On the day it rained, we jumped until we were sore at a trampoline park.
I am very lucky in that going to the beach is nothing new. I have always lived within an eight-hour drive of one shore or another. When I was young, my parents took my brother and me to the Atlantic coast or the Gulf at least every other year. In nearly thirteen years of marriage, my husband and I have gotten away to the beach several times. That’s including the last three falls, now that we have a child who loves to be manhandled by the tide.
Yet something was different about this trip. I anticipated it. I enjoyed nearly every moment of it. And when it was over, I was happy to be coming home to my bed, my routine, my work. There was no dread about what awaited me. I didn’t open my email yesterday with one eye shut. I didn’t groan about the stacks of papers and books on my desk.
In other words, I needed – and had – a break, not an escape.
Too many times I’ve gone out of town in total denial about what I’d have to deal with when I got back. Church members gone wild. Staff conflict. Events that had to be pulled off, whether there was support and enthusiasm for them or not. I’ve dreamed about what it would look like just to stay gone.
Many of you have been there too. You survive until vacation, then your time away is not nearly enough to recover from the exhaustion and the discouragement. And sometimes all the quiet does is amplify the voice in your head that keeps asking if what you do makes any difference to anyone. (Spoiler alert: it does.)
So my hope for you is that your personal and vocational lives nourish you as much as they drain you so that, when you take that hard-earned time away, you just need a break instead of a full-on escape.