You’ve probably heard friends complain about being on lockdown in their house—with their spouse—for eight months now. You may have complained about it yourself. The disappointing cancellation of activities you’d anticipated. Enjoyable times with loved ones. As well as the forced demand of duties you never signed up for—like homeschooling your children while doing your own job from home.
For us, it was the cancellation of family vacations that had been planned 18 months in advance, the evaporation of a pilgrimage hike we had actively been training for, and an un-re-schedule-able trip with friends.
Finally, after eight long months, we decided we would have a get-away for just the two of us. Since we normally pack a lot into our vacations, we made a list of things we wanted to see, checked the websites to make sure the venues were open, recorded the days and hours each site was open, and arranged our list for maximum efficiency—only to be met with further disappointment. Yes, the museum was open, but you had to purchase your tickets online—the day before. Yes, the restaurant was serving food—but only for curbside pick-up—and from a reduced menu.
We found ourselves sleeping in longer—lingering over devotions—just hanging out with each other. And, after a few days, we realized that wasn’t a bad thing. At home, we race from one task or activity to the next. Our vacations are memorable, but exhausting. While we were disappointed by what we didn’t get to do, we both agreed that the slower pace we had been forced into was a plus.
We also found ourselves taking time to delve deeper into those spousal irritations that are easier to just sweep under the rug most of the time. If you think being secluded in your house with your mate is difficult, try a hotel room and a Toyota Corolla for some “intense fellowship.” Let’s just say, “Issues surfaced.”
Let me give you an example: When we go on vacation, Bob is the driver; I am the navigator—a very bad navigator. We have resolved that it’s best to use Google Maps, plug in the destination, and turn on the voice feature. Problem solved? Not even close. Bob is a big picture sort of guy. I am a “how can I please you and maintain harmony sort of girl.” He wants to know the next three directions NOW. This is not possible when the voice feature is on. The result is that his voice gets progressively louder and more staccato and I get progressively more tense. (This is not an optimal way to spend a relaxing vacation.)
But this week we had time to dig out the roots of the problem. There were no distractions or pressing time schedule. “Why are you always so tense?” he asked me. “Because I truly want to please you and there’s no way I can give you all the information you want at the moment you want it and then you get mad,” I replied. There was a glimmer in his eyes as he turned to me. “You mean you think when my voice gets louder and more staccato it’s because I’m mad at you?” That’s exactly what I thought. “No.” he replied. “I get louder because I’m afraid you don’t understand and I want to be clear.” That was huge. Bob is not a big talker. Never was. He hadn’t started talking until he was four years old. But I’d only considered what I was feeling in the midst of these tense discussions—never what he was feeling—or why.
We had some good discussions that week. In some ways, the vacation was disappointing and in other ways we could see God’s hand working and giving us rest and depth.
How about you? Are there some trials and disappointments you have had to endure these last eight months? What is God showing you? What new opportunities is He giving you? Ask Him if He is replacing what you thought was good with something even better. And then, watch for it.