We were going to camp at Wallowa Lake.
It’s our very favorite spot, because of the memories there and the nostalgia that the name brings. It’s where we sat down with the deer, where we fed the squirrels in Oregon’s own alps, where we biked with sleeping kids in the bike trailer and rented paddle boats and fished the lake and listened to daddy’s stories in the tent at night.
We’ve only ever been there once as a family, but you’d think it was an annual thing – the way we talk about it.
We were going to visit again this summer. We wanted to spend four days traveling and relaxing and re-creating the perfect camping trip.
Summer swallowed us whole, though, and the window of opportunity slammed our fingers in the sill and we’re still a little sore about it.
Sometimes life is just that way.
You don’t always get what you want.
Life’s not fair.
Quit pouting and be thankful for what you have.
God works all things together.
All my parenting skills and wise-things-parents-have-said-for-generations turn on me, all of them pointing their fingers at me and talking at once. I don’t like this flip-side of my own words. I don’t like disappointment and plans that fall through. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t.
My worldview and the rubber-meets-the-road part of my life sometimes come into conflict. My worldview is something along the lines of God does work all things together for my good, and sometimes those are hard things, sometimes the things that are for my good are hard lessons I need to learn.
But when it comes right down to it, I want what I want and I live like I deserve it. The truth of my living is sometimes akin to a 3 year-old’s, and it’s not pretty.
Of course, it’s on a larger scale than missing my favorite camping spot. It’s apparent that I’m a whiny three-year-old when I want what other’s have, without the work other’s have done; when I fight for my rights and trample other’s rights and trample their feelings, too; when I focus on all I don’t have or didn’t get or can’t do, instead of being thankful for the abundance I do have.
And sometimes, in my mind, everybody else is doing everything right and enjoying life way more. Because I’m three.
I’m working on this grown-up thing.
So we went to the beach for the day, instead of Wallowa Lake. We packed a picnic lunch, grabbed some bags for sea-shells and other rotting things that wash up on shore, and we loaded in the van with admonitions to any grumpy people that they ought to remain silent.
This was our family trip and we were going to enjoy it. Period.
Most of us would have preferred the trip to Wallowa, but we made the best of the beach and we came home refreshed, with energy to spare, and we still liked each other. Who knows what the 9 hour drive to Wallowa would have done to us – with much larger children than last time, and a huge tent and coolers and tired parents?
Most of us are disappointed with life at some point.
We should be.
What spoiled brats we would be if we got everything we wanted, all the time.
One of the goals we have for our children is to raise them to be thankful. It’s tough.
I can’t blame them for their small perspective on life. I can’t blame them for being disappointed sometimes, or even whiny and cranky and self-centered. I’m a “grown-up” and those sins are still present in me now and then.
But when our plans fall through and our dream vacation gets canceled, maybe the good that God is working out in us is really for our vision to be smaller.
Maybe it’s really time for us to grow up and also to be small again, to see the small things and show our kids how to be thankful for sunshine and blue sky and a van that fits us all in; for ice-cream, even if it’s not exactly the kind we wanted; for low-tide and warm sand; for playground equipment that makes us all kids at once; for a short trip that doesn’t leave us exhausted and spent.
Sometimes when we don’t get what we want, I think God is making us small again.