This was supposed to be our Disney summer, ya’ll. Magical. Easy. Sunny and picturesque.
Then, as was the case for everyone else in the world, our 2020 plans came to a screeching halt.
As it became increasingly clear that we would no longer be Orlando-bound, we pivoted to making a Plan B decision.
“Let’s buy a camper.”
Now, just to clear, when I first uttered that fateful phrase, I had something much bigger and grander in mind than the metal box that ultimately took over my parking space in the garage. You know, an RV, a hotel on wheels we could take from coast to coast, beach to beach. After all, this was the back-up plan for the most Magical Place on Earth.
But my friends, I do not have the same realistic grasp on what things cost as my husband does.
Robert rightfully steered us toward a much more achievable, responsible financial decision, and in May, we became the proud owners of a 1994 pop-up trailer. We bought it dirt cheap off some good friends who took immaculate care of it over the years.
Our home-away-from-home is fully functional with A/C and a kitchenette where I can burn tiny pancakes, just like I do at home. It’s tasteful interior is trimmed in teal and peach — my sister’s dream wedding colors... in 1990...when she was 9. The weight of our beloved mobile home pushes the boundaries of what my vehicle can safely pull. Therefore, our exotic destinations have been restricted to Midwestern flatland within a 2-hour radius.
So far this summer, we’ve been on four camping trips, with one still yet to go. Overall, it’s been a lovely distraction from the monotony of “these uncertain times” in COVID-19 history.
Camping is hard. Family is even harder.
For every posed smiling moment captured in digital form, there have been at least 10 other images I could have taken of whining, bickering, crying, yelling, stomping and occasionally (sorry Sunday school friends) a little swearing.
Glamping in a 20-foot trailer has accentuated what I’d already discovered during 3 months of quarantine in our two story house:
Family is really hard, because love is really hard.
Circle of Love
This past Sunday morning, the Day Family Church gathered in a circle of blue fabric chairs by the charred remains of Saturday’s campfire.
Less visible but clearly present were the ashes and soot of Saturday’s family battle.
I pulled out my Bible determined to glean some glimmer of hope to start our day afresh. My efforts to host our own private church service were not met with even a flicker of enthusiasm.
Sunday morning praise team, complete with an interpretive dancer.
“How long is this going to take?!”
bellowed my sweaty, smelly and irritated congregation.
I went full mom on them, Robert included.
There would be NO FUN and NO SNACKS allowed until everyone participated in my devotions.
And that, my friends, is how I gained a captive and semi-hostile crowd for the reading of 1 Corinthians 13.
Persistent, intentional decisions
The “Love Chapter” takes on a whole new tone when extrapolated from the polished, smiling ritual of a wedding. Dropped in the context of a well-worn relationship, God’s Word provides a counter-cultural picture of what authentic love can and should be.
True love, godly love, is not state of mind or an accidental emotion that you can fall in or out of. Love is active; it’s a choice. Love is a series of persistent, intentional decisions to behave and treat others in a selfless way, regardless of our circumstances or how we feel.
Love is willfully intersecting with the broken, messy people in our lives and choosing to be patient. Choosing to be kind. Love is choosing to honor our people. No. Matter. What.
Love is also the hard work of identifying and eliminating any envy, boastfulness, pride, anger, greed, resentment or otherwise evil thoughts that creep into our minds and fill our hearts. Love is admitting our shortcomings, and inviting honest accountability from those who know us best. Love is ever striving to become the healthiest version of ourselves.
Love is at its finest on the hard days, the cranky days, the “I can’t look at your face or take your attitude for one more minute” days. After all, that’s when we have the opportunity to model the kind of grace-filled, relentless, unconditional love we ourselves have experienced from the Father.
We won’t always get it right, but we live out true love in our unyielding commitment to keep trying to pursue it.
And on the days we’re surrounded by the burnt out remains of love gone wrong, we request forgiveness; we grant forgiveness. Then we choose to love again.
Because love always protects. Love always trusts. Love always hopes. Love always perseveres.
That’s what I’ve learned from camping. That’s what I’m learning from family.
Heather M Day