Possibly the only thing that one can predict about a family vacation is that it will most certainly be unpredictable. So when it comes to my family and our travels, we are no exception to the rule; except for a few family traditions that seem to pop up with every trip: My brother-in-law Heath, will want to be at the airport at least 2 to 3 hours ahead of time, Ryan’s main concern throughout the trip will be obtaining and eating food, my sister Kathleen will make fun of my OCD packing and the cleaning of the hotel room even though we have maid service, and my daughter Lauryn will make sure to dress to the nines, in preparation for any surprise photo shoots that happen to come up (insert winky face emoji). And trust me, I wouldn’t have it any other way! It’s what makes traveling as a family so much fun!
So as we all made our way to Nashville, TN to visit my daughter Lauryn Raleigh for our Fall Break, the inside jokes quickly ensued. While standing in line at Enterprise for our rental car, we were approached by a very outspoken lady who freely gave us advice on where to go in Nashville, and then also proceeded to ask if she could give us cash and put her rental car agreement on our credit card. We ended up politely saying “No” and that ended up being the main inside joke throughout the course of our stay!
I also found out that one of my favorite authors was speaking at her church in Nash (as the locals say) and I was able to go and meet her, and have my book signed too! All in all, by Sunday morning we had already been having a great time…with only a few minor irritations that also seem to be fairly predictable when traveling with family.
We all met up for lunch after church, and over specialty Nash burgers and fries something very unpredictable happened. The normal eating, talking and laughing took a turn and the conversation changed. For the first time, in a very long time, starting with Lauryn and Heath, words and hearts were shared freely and we just began to share how we really felt about our lives, our brokenness, Jesus, church, unanswered prayers and our family. Yes, we have talked about these things before, but so many times I think we’ve been speaking in third person to one another, as if we were sharing how someone else felt, just a little too scared to reveal it was really us behind those hurts and fears. Those painful feelings are often there, yet maybe we’re too afraid of the honesty because maybe we feel like we are the only ones. And I’m not sure why it’s so much harder with family to really be honest, but it just is. Yet here we all were, voicing our hearts, sharing tears, and really listening for the first time in a long time. It was one of the best surprise moments of any family vacation I’ve ever taken and I’ll remember it for a long time to come. And now I think we are all hoping to make that a new family tradition as well: to really listen and to be open, to acknowledge each other’s pain and not just rush in to fix it; to give one another the benefit of the doubt, and not snap to quick judgments or assumptions. With family that can be a difficult goal to take on, but we will gladly try. So here’s to family vacations and all of their quirks and surprises. Here’s to adding honesty and openness to our packing list, and of course keeping our inside jokes!
Just an encouragement for all of us, as we get ready for extra family time over the holidays. Why not travel with a heart to listen this season, and be more open for how God wants to use not only our words but also our honesty.