It is summer time in the land of YLF and music planning which means that I am usually very busy. I wouldn’t say that I am necessarily stressed, but there are times when I could very much use a break. I was feeling this way even before the summer began. I looked over my schedule and saw that I did not have a vacation booked. Now, typically I don’t go on vacation. Trips are often expensive and I no longer travel with my family. Although a vacation sounded nice, I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to make it happen.
But as I made plans to attend a conference some distance from my home, I spoke with the conference director and learned that there would be some changes with my travel plans. Due to the fact that certain flights were rather expensive, I agreed to fly out a few days prior to the conference in order to save the denomination some money. I made plans to spend those few days with some family friends who lived a few hours from the conference site. I was bound and determined to make this my “vacation,” and it was just as relaxing as I hoped it would be.
In the days leading up to my departure for the conference, I was bombarded with numerous tasks and mounting frustration. I had never wanted to leave home so badly before, and I was looking forward to leaving my cares behind for a few days.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was definitely running away from the stress at home. I should have worked on processing everything before I left town and just used my time away as a means to recharge my batteries. But instead, I left with the knowledge that there would be much to do on my return and I just wanted to forget about it. It was like I put everything on hold instead of taking the opportunity to work through it and possibly eliminate some of the issues at hand.
I was anticipating the free hours and the realization that I had nothing pressing to do for two whole days! It was exiting and liberating! But then, as sometimes seems typical, things didn’t turn out how I had planned. My stay with my family friends was wonderful and so was the conference, but everything changed when I considered my flight home. Although I had helped to plan my itinerary, I had not considered what the remaining days of my trip would look like.
The conference ended midday on a Saturday, and I wasn’t scheduled to fly home until late the next day. I wondered what I would possibly do with over 24 hours of free time. I called a friend who formerly attended my church and made plans to attend church with her, but that only accounted for about three hours of my time. I started to think about what was available to me in my hotel room, and all I could think of was mindless hours on the Internet while catching random shows on cable TV.
But here’s the thing: the conference center was under construction, and consequently, the cable and Internet service were spotty. There went my plans for meaningless time-wasting activities. I knew with certainty that I was going to be bored, and in that moment of realization, I almost wanted to go home. Yes, you read that correctly; I wanted to go home despite all of the stresses and frustrations that I was sure to face on the horizon. What was I thinking?
As you can tell, my plans for running away didn’t sync up to how God wanted to use that weekend to bless me in so many ways. Due to the fact that the cable and Internet didn’t provide much service, I was forced to explore the conference center. There I was able to connect with two wonderful conference attendees who were also staying an extra night on campus before flying home. We talked for hours and I was able to play and sing for them as a means of practicing for worship leading at an upcoming retreat.
I made two new friends in the process, and I was almost grateful that my earlier plans hadn’t panned out. I had wanted to run away and get away from it all, but that wasn’t God’s plan for me. Instead, I was able to embrace the beauty of friendship and focus on what truly mattered.