... taking a trip together can peel back the sticky surface layers of family frustration, and get to the rich, core layers of love and unity.
If you were anything like me as a child, you might have found yourself thinking things like “man, adults have it so easy” and “I can’t wait to grow up so I can do whatever I want, too!”
But when childhood faded and we found ourselves as young adults, thrust into the world of mortgages, car payments, and budgets, we changed our tune, didn’t we? Learning to juggle financial responsibilities, adult relationships, marriage, and parenting is not as easy as we once thought it would be. Sure, Mom and Dad could eat cookies before dinner if they wanted, but they also had to buy the cookies and drive to the store to purchase them in a car they had to pay for and fill up with gas first!
In that same vein, there’s a lot that goes into making big decisions like family vacations. Where should we go? Should we go at all? Should we stay home and save money instead? Should we do a stay-cation? I can’t tell you how many times my husband and I have pro/con-listed our way through the various options. Is it wise to slap the whole thing on a credit card and deal with it later? But what about the importance of spending time as a family—isn’t that more valuable than money? Is taking a cheaper vacation even worth it? These are hard questions with no “one size fits all” answer.
But I would encourage you to consider the ideas below while making your decisions. Clearly, being a good steward of the money God has provided your family is important, and I’m not advocating for being irresponsible. But there are some other elements to the “family vacation debate” you might not have considered.
Here are five reasons why your family probably needs a summer vacation:
1. You Need Quality Time
I’ve never noticed how fast time flies until my daughter was born. It sounds so cliché, but it’s true—it seems like yesterday she was a toddler leaving muffin crumbs all over the furniture and drawing on her art table to the background noise of Saturday morning cartoons. Now, she’s a teenager and heading into high school this fall. There’s still a mess in her wake, but fewer cartoons and more time split between friends and family rather than having her all to myself.
Our other daughter is heading into middle school, leaving elementary behind and turning into an official teenager in a few short years. I know all too soon, I’ll be writing another devotional, wide-eyed at how I’m suddenly the mother of a college student! My mama heart aches at this natural truth, and it inspires me to spend as much quality time with my kids now as I can before they grow up and begin their own families.
"So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12 (ESV)
Quality time is crucial in a family unit. Even if you don’t have children, it’s important to get away with your spouse. Make room for quality time in your family relationships!
2. You Need to Rest
"And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation." Genesis 2:2-3 (ESV)
I’m hyper-aware that I’m not the Lord, but I figure if God did something, it wasn’t because He needed it so much as it was for our example. It’s not that God got tired when He was working to create the world. Of course not—God doesn’t sleep or fall to exhaustion. He is perfect and in need of nothing. More likely, He was modeling a work ethic and a pattern for us to follow. We need rest—our finite bodies and burdened spirits require it. Today’s technology makes it all too easy to stay consistently plugged into work—or, at the least, feel the pressure to check emails constantly (even if we haven’t received a new one).
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (ESV)
These past several years of sickness and pandemics and violence seem to prove more than ever the accuracy of John 16:33. News headlines are exhausting. Articles in our social media feed fill us with fear and despair. It’s just not an individual exhaustion; it’s a nationwide one, and that pressure is felt across the globe. It’s important that we take time to rest and rejuvenate and replenish ourselves emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically. We can further follow the Lord’s example by modeling that for our children in a family vacation, where we turn off the phones, television, and noise of the world and focus on the gift of each other.
3. You Need to Make Memories
"How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!" Psalm 33:1 (NIV)
Making memories as a family is so important. When my children are grown up and in their own families, I want them to look behind and remember trips we took together. They don’t have to be big and expensive and far away to count! Weekend trips to a nearby big city, long weekend camping trips, or even day trips to a fun amusement park or water slide are a memory in the making—just as much as Disney World or a cruise or a foreign country. Whatever your budget can handle this summer, make time to make memories.
"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward." Psalm 127:3 (ESV)
There’s nothing like a family vacation to remind yourself of how valuable your family is to you. Children are a blessing (even on the days we require extra coffee because of them!), and taking a trip together can peel back the sticky surface layers of family frustration, and get to the rich, core layers of love and unity.
4. You Need to Have Fun
"And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun." Ecclesiastes 8:15 (ESV)
The Bible is full of verses about joy. Solomon in all his wisdom spoke about the vanity of life and how important it is to enjoy what God has given us because our days are short. He went on to explain there’s a season for everything. Maybe right now is the season for some quality, fun, restful, memory-making together time for your family!
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…" Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV)
Whether you’re able to hike in a state park, scream on a roller coaster, eat your way through a touristy city, or bicycle along the beach, be sure to focus on having fun together as a family. That’s what makes it all worth it.
5. You Need Opportunities to Grow
Let’s face it, family vacations don’t always go perfectly, do they? If they did, there wouldn’t be so many comedy movies made on that very trope. But here’s the good thing about the way God works—everything is redeemable! That flat tire, that hotel room covered in bugs, that lost suitcase, or an argument between siblings can all be used for the glory of God and for the further sanctification of each member of the family. Sometimes, those moments we think of as disasters are part of what makes up the fun stories to tell years later!
When we vacation together, we all get opportunities to grow in our spiritual walk.
Parents get the chance to follow the Lord’s commands regarding our children.
"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)
Children get the chance to follow the Lord’s commands regarding their parents.
"Honor your father and mother…" Matthew 19:19 (ESV)
And everyone gets the chance to love and forgive, as we’re all commanded to do as believers in Christ.
"bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." Colossians 3:13 (ESV)
Remember these things when deciding to take a family vacation this year, and don’t be afraid to get creative if your pocketbook demands it. There’s always something fun to do within driving distance of home if you aren’t afraid to do a little exploring or research! The important things to remember about vacation this summer are to appreciate your family, make those memories, and enjoy quality time together (and apply that sunblock!).
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/moisseyev