I recently went on a short holiday overseas with a few friends. It was relaxing, eventful, and a good break, plus a chance to step back a bit from the everyday and gain a wider perspective.
I really think however, that there is a way to holiday with God, and a way to holiday without Him. Life was created to be lived in step with our Creator. I fail at this all the time in day to day life, and because holidays present a unique mixture of challenges, it was something I wanted to think about beforehand.
This is neither a perfect nor an exhaustive list… but it was helpful for me, so perhaps it might be helpful for you.
Plan to CONTINUE ‘quiet time’.
For me this just meant remembering to bring my journal, Bible and a pen. It sounds simple, but if I don’t plan or think about how I can make it a priority (ie. will I have time in the morning, in the afternoon, how can I find some alone time during the day?) it just doesn’t happen in the normal chaos and disrupted routines of being on holidays.
2. BRING a Christian book.
I didn’t actually do this, but I wished I had. I read some fun fiction and non-fiction books while I was on holidays, but in the name of space (they were too heavy) I didn’t bring a specifically Christian book.
I actually missed this because when I am on holidays it is easy to ‘live in a bubble’ and I find books which force me to think a bit more deeply or remind me of God’s grand plan for the world can go a long way in making sure I don’t forget where my identity really lies.
3. Pray for AFTER the holiday.
This might sound silly, but when you come back from holidays into normal life it can be easy to get caught in ‘post-holiday blues’. I personally find it all too easy to snap at people because I’m tired, or feel they don’t understand me because they haven’t shared the past week with me.
A week or two can change someone, and it can be hard to relate to others when they seem to have ‘remained the same’. Before I left and as I prepared to return, I prayed for a few specific things:
- That I would be loving and humble to others when I returned
- That I would not enjoy the holiday so much as to come to expect it as a ‘right’ or spend my time wishing I could return
- That I would share about my time away well, and not discount others’ ‘home life’ experiences as inferior
4. Prepare to SACRIFICE.
I find it all too easy to think that when I’m on holidays I ‘deserve’ certain things. My thinking often goes like this: I’m on holidays so every moment ought to be fun. I paid money for this, so I need to milk it for all it’s worth. I have to do X, Y or Z, and anything less is irresponsible or a failure.
My friends, all these modes of thinking simply turn me into an incredibly selfish, impatient, unloving companion. And so before I went away I prayed that I would be loving to those I went with. That I would be willing to give up my ideas of what makes a good holiday (however true I think they might be) to help others have a good holiday.
5. Find the MOST important thing.
It’s so easy to get caught up in tiny details when you’re on holidays. Whether it’s a good sleep, or keeping away from mosquitoes, or having the perfect meal or swimming every day. And yet, in the end, what really matters?
Before I left, I asked myself what had to occur for me to feel that my time away had been a ‘success’? Was it really being able to eat ice-cream every day or enjoying good weather? No! In reality my holiday would be a success if: I was able to love others, grow in humility, and return refreshed to serve and live.
These all sound like very high and might ideals, I must admit. And you’re probably asking, how did I measure up? In one word – abysmally.
I failed every day. I snapped at people, I thought unkind thoughts. I got impatient, I bought into the lie that my holidays had to be ‘happy’ for me to be happy. I was thoughtless, I didn’t spend as much time with Jesus as I could have, and I idealised things that weren’t worth idealising.
And yet, my God is faithful. His blood covers over my multitude of sins, and His intense love surrounds and reassures me. All of life is a work in progress, and He uses all situations.
Was I always happy on my holiday?
No, but I didn’t expect to be. Like life, sad things happen. Scary things happen. Uncomfortable things happen. But that is okay. God was and is my Protector and my Fortress.
Was my holiday good?
Yes it was! I enjoyed good company, good food, good books and beautiful sights. There were restful patches, and mind-cleansing times. But ultimately my holiday was good because it was another week lived under the shadow of my Heavenly Father, and it’s reassuring to know I don’t have to go overseas for that to be true. I don’t even have to be able to keep resolutions or follow steps.
Life is good, whether on holidays or stuck in the midst of stress and tragedy, or both, because my God is good. And so I praise His Name.
// What about you? How do you prepare to go on holidays? Any tips? Thoughts?