In our house, we have all been struck down by some lurgy. It started in my son, passed to my wife and duly onto me and my daughter. At the moment we are all in some state of illness, varying only in how far through the ordeal we have come respectively. None of us have anything too horrendous but it is bad enough to make us feel fairly grim.
Unfortunate as they are, colds come to us all. As of yet, none of us are making too much of a meal about it. And one can function tolerably enough with a cold.What seems a real shame is that this illness has coincided with our holiday. The plan was to spend the best part of a week with the grandparents, come home for a day or so, before heading up to Scotland.
Now, we all became ill just before we went off to my parents. An unhappy coincidence, for sure, but we presumed that if we were going to get ill being with family who will look after us was probably the time for it to happen. With undue optimism, we presumed we’d be ill for a week, come home to regroup, and be fine at the point we were heading north of the border. Well, we still have one snotty little boy, a grizzly little girl and two less than A-1 parents. Alas, it seems at least some of our Scottish expedition will be marred by illness.
It would be easy to get disappointed that we won’t be able to enjoy our holiday in the way that we might otherwise like but, truth be told, what a pressure that is to load onto one week in the year! If our year is made or broken by how well our holiday goes – how perfect it is or isn’t – then we are setting ourselves up for severe disappointment indeed. If it wasn’t the fact that we were ill, it could be the accommodation we’re going to or the area we are staying in, he children playing up or the inability to relax once we’re there. Any number of things might happen to make the experience less enjoyable than it might otherwise have been.
Sure, we want to enjoy our holiday and would love to be able to relax. But that loads its own pressures onto the week. Wanting to relax can quickly turn into unless I relax, to the fullest possible extent, the week has been a disaster. Ironically, in the desperate pursuit to ensure we relax we end up under more pressure than had we not bothered to go at all. It is a pressure I have become uniquely aware of since becoming a pastor working a 6-day week. Suddenly my one day per week takes on inordinate pressure to relax, complete non-work chores and enjoy quality time with the family. Quite the pressure to load onto one day per week!
So how is one to relax? Over time, I have found the best approach is to load no expectations onto such things. I don’t mean that in a dour, sour-faced sort of way – an Eeyorish “it’ll probably be rubbish anyway so let’s not get our hopes up” type thing. What I mean is placing no pressure on myself to relax. If the time is restful, then that is a wonderful by-product of whatever we do. If it’s not as restful as I may hope, I’m sure I will have spent some quality time with my family that I wouldn’t otherwise have done. If the children don’t enjoy it as much as I might hope, I’m sure my wife and I will value the change of scene. It is to place no pressure on the holiday/day off beyond looking for it to bring whatever it will bring. To pressure ourselves into relaxation seems both to miss the point and, perversely, makes the whole thing more than a little stressful.
It is funny how we do this on all sorts of things. Weddings as the most important day of your life, holidays as the purpose of working hard all year, goods we’ve saved up for making our life better/easier/more fulfilled. It is loading expectations onto things that could never meet our expectations. When the day isn’t all we hoped for, the product not being all we thought or the holiday not being as great as we hoped. It is the fast track to disappointment and resentment.
If Christ is really all sufficient, these other things oughtn’t to bear the pressure we lay upon them. If we are going to Christ to meet our needs, we won’t start looking to our holidays, days off, work, children or anything else to fulfil our needs. In Christ, these other things may be seen for what they are – good gifts he gives to us. Our year, week or day need not be made or broken by such things because we have a saviour who is all sufficient.
So, no, I’d rather not be ill on my holiday. But, if Christ is sufficient for me, I will be content on my holiday come what may. He has given us the gift of a break – irrespective of our illness – and we load no pressure onto it knowing that he will meet all our needs.