You’ve been contemplating a get-away with someone you love. While still in the dream-phase, all things seem possible, but at departure’s approach, the conflicts between each individual’s plan become more pronounced. Perhaps uneasiness creeps in; this is after all quite an investment of your time, money, and hopes. Do you shoo the unsettling thoughts away like a pestering bug, or do you tighten your grip on your own expectations? What do you do?
Greetings from onboard a cruise ship teeming with thousands of vacationers, each hoping for something specific in return for their hard-earned dollars. Among them, as in “Where is Walter?” – my love and I.
I’ve dreaded the loud crowds and louder muzak everywhere, but how could I refuse my man’s invitation to go away together, alone?! His dream is to find some place on earth out of reach from the ever-demanding phone, iPad, Internet. Just to be with me. Awww – YES!
But while I share the core of this yearning, I perceive the whole cruise-experience very differently than he. At first glance, we approach almost everything from polar opposite points of view. He thrives with distraction; I crave focus. He relaxes, anonymous among strangers; I exhale better at home with close friends. He seeks the shade, and I the sun. You get the picture.
Yet we are one. 22 years of marriage have fused our individual idiosyncrasies into the living organism that is “we” rather than “I.” Still, almost all our preferences and needs are as divergent as night and day. So how do we navigate the turbulent waters of choices that, though admittedly first-world problems, are nonetheless necessary for our exhausted selves to recharge?
Here’s what I am learning so far:
LOOK PAST THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND FIND COMMON GROUND in soul-desires. In and of itself, the cruise is not the point for him; it’s the mental ease provided by the all-inclusive service here. No need to decide anything; we can just wander aimlessly from buffet to book, from rigatoni to reading. Underneath our differences, we both long for rest, quietness, and time with each other. That’s our common ground.
ALLOW SOME TIME APART to each indulge in the unique delights the other doesn’t enjoy. As I ponder this, torrential rain pours down upon the pool deck where I sit sheltered by a canopy, and he is below in our quiet little cabin, taking a nap. Such sweet freedom allows space and grace for us to just be what we are – and then reunite refreshed. I’ve heard that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and here listening to the rain, I’m tasting that truth.
ENJOY EXPLORING YOUR INDIVIDUAL EXPECTATIONS. All too easily, we assume…. “I know him, for crying out loud.” But listening to his heart’s desires invites me deeper into his soul. In discovering what I thought I understood about him, I meet him all over again, and that is by far my most fascinating destination. In the beauty of common ground, with the freedom to breathe my own way, I am not threatened by his personal preferences. Because there’s room for us both, we fall in love over and over again.
BE GRATEFUL. By almost any standard, vacation is a luxury. Drawing away from the daily grind is unheard of for the vast majority of the world’s population, and remembering that places my whining over the cheesy noise-scape in its proper perspective. The exhortation of 1 Timothy 6:6-8 tickles my mind: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”
We have so much more than food and clothing. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t.
So when lavishly graced with the generous blessings of my Father, in the form of delicious dinners, bottomless bottles of sparkling water, and no cell-phone service, I will express my profound gratitude, even as I drink deeper from the truth that “our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” (Augustine’s Confessions)
“A voice is on the wind
It calls me further in
I’m heading deeper into Your heart
Your mark is on my chest
My sails filled with Your breath
You guide me by the light of the stars
I’m sailing on a ship that’s bound for light
I wrestle with the wind against the tide
I leave it all behind to reach for more
I’m sailing on to Your golden shore”