I just got back from traveling overseas. I enjoy the chaos of travel – its unexpected trials, my new best friends that I sit next to on the plane, and the airport food that is twice as expensive but just as satisfying. I like looking at possible souvenirs I won’t buy and rifling through magazines I would never have time to read in my “everyday” life. I even enjoy the waiting for delayed flights.
When our children were younger, we traveled with them. We loved showing them new places and teaching them to navigate the airports, unique travel challenges and meeting people who spoke different languages, wore unique clothing and had traditions that had little to do with their “everyday” life. They even enjoyed waiting for delayed flights with us.
We all learned a lot about ourselves and who we were as family during our travels. Our trips’ Teachable Moments are our souvenirs that we still enjoy remembering and using today in our “everyday” lives. These souvenirs bring a wisdom that only comes through travel.
SOUVENIR #1 – Plans Always Go Awry
You can plan; you can obsess; you can detail every second, but I guarantee you, something will go awry. There is no perfect plan and there are no guarantees. The only one who is perfect and knows the plan is God Himself, “I make known the end from the beginning…” (Isaiah 46:10).
T.M.: Having the expectation that the journey of life as well as any travel routes will never end up being what we initially expect is a wise truth to remember, especially when the unexpected arises. Get ready to be surprised, uncomfortable and interrupted and remember – all of these build character.
SOUVENIR #2 – Picking Your Travel Partners
Not everyone is built for travel. Some do it much better than others. Some struggle with the confinement that is inevitable when you are negotiating how to get from point A to point B. Some hate the amount of time it takes to reach one’s destination, no matter the mode of travel. Some feel edgy thinking of all the other things they could be doing until they reach their destination. And some HATE figuring out out of all the stuff they own what stuff they need to take with them. These types of worried, anxious individuals who usually expect the worst-case scenario and have no hope that they will enjoy life as they travel make the journey more difficult than it needs to be. Proverbs is correct when it says “anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down” and Proverbs is also correct when it says, “a merry heart makes for a merry countenance”.
T.M.: Besides packing a toothbrush, pack a good attitude that is hopeful and leans upon God for contentment!
SOUVENIR #3 – Perspective Matters
My husband has said as long as I’ve known him (over 30 years now) that it is not perfection, but the direction of our lives that count. Focusing too much on having the “perfect” trip or focusing too much on where we are going and not where we are currently at are both perspectives that will kill any decent travel plan. Focusing too much on any moment of time other than the moment we are currently in is a great waste of time. I can’t change either the past or future, but I can influence this moment – and since a trip is just a series of moments – it’s wise to make every moment count. As for considering just “getting there” as the very definition of success, that is a misguided idea that process is inferior to results. It’s just not true – how we get somewhere, what we learn and enjoy as we get there, the relationships we build as we get there – these are all significant in their own right.
T.M.: Realize the current way being made for you (Isaiah 43:18-19) and celebrate the moment you are in (Romans 14:17).
Dear Reader, if you travel, you have a whole bunch of Teachable Moments that direct your life. Recognizing what God has taught you and how it informs your life is an invaluable collection of souvenirs. Have you shared with your children what you have learned from life’s journey and specifically, your own travel experiences? What has God taught you? What Teachable Moments are your souvenirs? Next time you come home from even a day trip, start a conversation with your family that begins with, “On my trip, God taught me….” and let them see how God had been at work within you as you had been away from them.
May you enjoy picking through your collection of Teachable Moments and giving testimony and thanks to God for each one.
Blessings to you as we travel this life together. Fondly yours, Elizabeth