What I Should Have Done on My Summer Vacations

July 22nd 2015 No comments yet  

tent-765064_1280For me, this was always the first back-to-school assignment—share with the class what you did on your summer vacation. Typically, what I had to look back on was a season spent plowing through books on the library’s summer reading list, which I still defend as an excellent use of a vacation. But I wonder sometimes if I missed out on chances to make friends or spend extended time in God’s natural world.

As a child, I was always nervous about leaving the safety of my home. My fears, while intended to keep me safe, can also keep me separated from growth and a full life, and this was especially the case for me during “normal” summer activities. I was ruled by fear—fear of getting dirty, fear of getting hurt, fear of venturing outside what I perceived as “safe.” Looking back, I have compiled a list of things I would have been able to share with my classmates each fall, had I been braver. Perhaps you or your kiddos can relate.

Gone on a Camping Trip 

Maybe this would have helped me to overcome my crippling fear of spiders, ticks, dirt, and poison ivy. Or maybe it would have just aggravated these fears. In any case, I wish I would have tried to brave the wild outdoors before I became soft from years of padded seats and air conditioning. God made a gorgeous world, and I still do not spend enough time exploring it. (This video about nature and childhood hit a little close to home for me).

Attended a Summer Camp

This relates somewhat to my wish above, though this one has more to do with the bonding experience of sharing bunk beds and wading in questionable lake water with friends. That’s quality time I never spent with my peers. I attended a few day camps in my youth, but we spent the days inside, and I slept at home in my pink canopy bed every night. No risks taken there.

Learned How to Swim

That’s right, I just confessed on a public blog that I cannot survive in deep water. Try not to exploit my weakness. For years, my parents dragged me to swimming lessons, but the only thing they achieved was traumatizing a few lifeguards with my pleas for mercy. I did spend nearly every day at a water park one year, but I was too scared to go more than halfway into the wave pool, which meant I was left out of my friends’ more adventurous fun.

Learned How to Ride a Bike

(Is it obvious that I will not be joining a triathlon anytime soon?) When I still had training wheels, I was a biking machine. But then the “big girl bike” came, with its promise of bruises and failure. After one topple onto the pavement, I threw off my Barbie helmet, declared “I’m done,” and stomped to the house, scarred for life. Because of my stubborn fears, I later missed chances to bike with friends or pedal over to their houses to visit.

Gone on a Mission Trip

There may be no better way to grow lasting relationships with people than by serving God and others together. Mission trips bring folks together and put them in foreign or difficult situations, encouraging them to rely on the Lord and laugh together through any struggles. My small churches never offered trips like that, and I do not know if I would have been brave enough to go even if they had. Stonebriar is blessed to have flourishing missions, children’s, and student ministries programs, and I hope youths take every opportunity to grow within them.

All this is to say that excellent growing experiences come from getting out there and opening yourself to your environment. Too often, kids and adults alike miss out because of their fears and stubbornness, and I am no exception. We would rather stay safe indoors, isolated from the elements and situations we cannot control. But since God is in control, what have we to fear? Even if “the worst” does happen, nothing can pluck our souls from the Lord’s hands if we trust in Him, and that is the ultimate promise of safety. So in these last few weeks of summer, maybe we can all let go and be a bit more adventurous.  Heck, maybe I will conquer my fear of the deep end! Maybe…

So what did you do on your summer vacation?


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