Last week, thanks to the generosity of some friends who own a perfectly amazing guest home by the sea, we packed up our family and left for vacation. The whole lot of us – handsome husband, cute kids and son-in-law, darling grandboy and fun-loving friend – all converged for a few days of relaxation and family bonding in one of our favorite spots in the whole world: the Oregon coast.
The house was beautiful.
The sunsets were incredible.
The food was fantastic.
You should see the pictures!
Oh wait, you did? Yes. Because either I or some member of our tribe posted the perfect moments on instagram. If I were my friend, I would have unfollowed me.
Plenty of moments missed the photo frame, though.
- For nearly an entire day, the ocean – which was just steps outside our window-lined living room – was completely blanketed by thick fog. Throughout the day, I felt that murky mist slowly descend on our moods and creep over our hearts like a scratchy sweater.
- My son, who is the coolest 13-year-old I’ve ever known, is still 13. He is a child in a world of grownups and he doesn’t always fit just right. As a fellow-youngest child, I relate to this awkward phase so much and I want him to love being who he is and not have to work to fit in with adults before he is one. No one can fix it; it just is.
- My husband and I argued over the silliest thing ever the morning we were getting ready to leave. Our words were brief, terse and tense, and it colored the whole day for me.
- My family, in spite of all our similarities, is also filled with diversity. Sometimes this diversity leads to fantastic collaboration, sometimes it leads to conflict. Another thing I can’t fix (and I wouldn’t if I could because it’s good for us), but I worry when relationships get tumultuous – and they sometimes do.
I worry about the fairydust filters that feed our culture’s air-brushed lives to a watching world. The more we capture the perfect moments, perfect outfits, perfect vacations, the more it perpetuates the myth that perfect is an actual thing. It isn’t. Perfect is pinterest. Real is beautiful. It’s in these rough-and-tumble moments of foggy days and harsh words and empty ice cream containers put back in the freezer, that we push through the cardboard cutout representations of relationship and move into true, tender I-would-give-my-life-for-you love. We don’t love each other in spite of the things we have to wrestle through, but because of them. Because with a fly-by-night friend, we could walk away; but with family – we stay. We stick. We work it out. We fight harder and love better.
On the other hand, what I love about our instagrammed & facebooked moments is this: they archive the world as I want to remember it. While I know that all this valuable, long-term relational work is happening in the hard stuff, I don’t really want a picture of Josiah being the only one too young to watch the movie, you know? I’m working hard to live this way in my whole life: embrace that the tough things are producing wonderful results, but snapshot (and remember, remember, remember) the breathtaking moments, because they are rare and wonderful. So, that table full of seafood that came at the end of a long, stormy day? I want to remember it, relive it and I even want to be able to share it with you – but I never want you to feel like we are something we aren’t or that we’ve figured out a magic formula for flawless living because that is a country mile from the truth.
So, was our vacation perfect? Nope. Not by a long shot.
But it was real and right in all the messy ways life can be.
And I’m thankful.