Making Your Reality Beautiful
When I was a teenager and even young adult, I would have what I called, "Post Vacation Crash".
Any time that I got back from going on a trip, I would be in the throes of depression for the next several days, even the next week. I would have a lovely week, and then I would be back in the reality of life- dishes, cleaning, laundry, and everything else that goes with it.
As the years have gone by, though, I have changed in this area.
I just got back from the trip of a lifetime to Ireland. It was my first time flying internationally- my first time going through customs, and my first time using a passport. I am 41 years old, so it was a long time coming. Although I was so excited to go, it wasn't something that I had spent my life "pining" for, or yearning to do. I love traveling places in the US, and I am convinced I could spend the rest of my life finding new things to see and do here in the States. But Ireland has one thing that the US doesn't- good friends of ours, the O'Hagans!
We have become close over the last few years, but are even closer now- after a week of staying with them and being with them every waking moment. Our hearts were knit like never before, and we share the bond of Christ in our lives. They are friends that truly feel like family. They love us with all our imperfections, and we love them despite theirs. We spent the week traveling the countryside and I saw amazing scenery. We visited castles and beaches and cliffs. I interacted with lovely people. I ate delicious food. I enjoyed a culture different from my own. I marveled at all the little differences between our two countries. I laughed until I cried, I shared my heart, they shared theirs, we stayed up late drinking tea and eating dessert and just enjoying each other's company.
I enjoyed every minute, and I soaked it up. I have some health concerns right now, and the normal, every day stresses of raising kids and being involved in church and outside stressors and attacks that may come our way, but I really focused on leaving it all behind and enjoying every moment.
And I did.
It's the way that I have tried to live my life for the last ten years or so. Be in the moment. Enjoy the good, along with the bad. Take each day as it comes. Don't get anxious or stressed out about the things you have no control over. Be grateful for the blessings that come your way, and don't bemoan the trials that come, too. The good with the bad. The unpleasant with the pleasant.
And I realized that when I got home, I experienced zero Post-Vacation Crash. Because I have learned something over the years.
No matter what state I am in, I can be happy. Happiness isn't about where you live. It's not about how pretty the scenery is, or how nice the people are. It's not about culture or circumstance or good things that happen or bad things that happen. It's about an inner state of happiness.
I didn't visit Ireland and suddenly decide that I wanted to move there. Because I love my life HERE- in Illinois. I love Illinois with all its problems and imperfections and even with the crazy governor that we have. I love Illinois with its horrible gas prices, (Ireland's gas is actually over $8 a gallon right now, just throwing that out there...) its horrible inflation and its horrible policies. I love Illinois because it has something Ireland doesn't have.
Illinois has my husband. It has my kids. It has my church. No other place in the world has the same people that come to my church. It has my house and my three acres and my chickens and my town. Illinois holds all the things that are important to me.
When we moved to Rock Falls ten years ago, I gave it my heart. I decided that I didn't care where I lived, as long as it had my husband and kids. But when we moved here, we moved here. We were planting a church, so we got planted. We established relationships and friendships and bought our house and made it our home, and we made our church our church.
Even though Ireland has us beat in the scenery department, it doesn't have Liberty Baptist Church.
Over the last 21 years, I have created a beautiful reality. I can go on vacation and have a good time, but it's not better than the reality that I am living. I love my life. I love, and actually LIKE- my husband. I am not complete when away from him. I love, and actually LIKE- my eight babies. I am not complete when away from them. I love, and actually LIKE- my church. I am not complete when away from them.
At the age of 41, I don't have many aspirations of traveling the world. If I get the chance, I will gladly do it, but I don't sit around making plans. I have been in the trenches for the last 21 years raising kids, changing diapers, wiping noses, homeschooling, training, and loving my family. My boys, at 20 and 19, gave me a trip of a lifetime, and I enjoyed it SO MUCH. I will always be thankful for that.
But my reality is beautiful. Among the chaos of raising a large family, I have joy. Amid the uncertainties of church planting, and the hurts that come with that, I have joy. Amid the craziness of inflation and covid and the unconstitutional madness that has happened, I have joy.
I don't need vacations and foreign trips and great food and amazing scenery to have joy. I have joy in my beautiful reality.
Those things don't bring you true joy, anyways.
My babies sleeping on me? Joy.
Arms wrapped around me in a hug? Joy.
An admiring glance thrown my way from my husband? Joy.
My cozy home? Joy.
Laughter around a dinner table? Joy.
Seeing our church grow and watching the tight knit friendships that take place? Joy.
My every day chaos and noise and bustling home? Joy.
I will continue to enjoy each new adventure as it comes. I will enjoy going to new lands, but I will also enjoy just living in the land I am familiar with- Illinois. I will enjoy adventures, but I will also enjoy the day to day occurrences that happen in my own home. I will enjoy special days, but I will also enjoy the down days, and the hard days that come my way. I will enjoy visiting new churches, but I will always enjoy my own better.
I am wife.
I am mother.
I am friend.
And that is enough. My reality is beautiful.