The Freedom of Admitting Imperfection~ Road Trip Reflections
Seventy two hours. It’s a huge number, especially when those hours involve a road trip, when they mark the time spent in a minivan.
Thirteen movies. Some watched more than once. Because who can resist a cute little two year old when she says, “Watch a wovie?”.
Forty eight state, two Indian nation, five Canadian province and one District of Columbia license plates. We were hopeful that we would see Hawaii, but it didn’t happen. And apparently, no one lives in Wyoming (or at the very least, they weren’t driving where we were)!
Fifteen meals at restaurants in two weeks (3 of those were at Chick-fil-A. Of course!). I ate some of the best food I have ever eaten in my life. My son tried alligator and it was actually quite good. But bring on the salads and home cooked meals! My stomach was in an uproar!
Sixteen different states. The kids enjoyed filling in their passport books and we saw parts of the country that were completely new to us. I loved the swamps of Louisiana. We were surprised by the beauty of Oklahoma. The Flint Hills region in Kansas was one of the most astounding places I have ever driven through. The diversity of our country is quite amazing and it has only increased my desire to see it all!
Four thousand three hundred some miles. For those who want to know, that is the distance from sea to shining sea and half way back again. And that is why this journey earned the hashtag #epicroadtrip !!!
Fourteen memorable animal sightings. The most surprising was a dead black bear on our way to Virginia. We saw a flock of gorgeous pink birds in Louisiana. The Longhorns in Texas and bison in Ohio were both fantastic. Our two year old said “cow” and “horse” repeatedly. (Also, “Nar-nar” and “Dumpy Dog”, but that’s a story for another day!). Armadillos and a road runner were pretty cool to see too. Two of my children claimed they saw an alligator. Driving from Texas to Kansas was one ranch after another and I loved every single one!
Five different beds. Our families were all so very generous to us and we all slept comfortably except for the first and last nights of our trip. The first night, our two year old would not stay in her Pack-n-Play. So she kept us awake until 3 AM at which point, I took her and we shared her Pack-n-Play mattress on the floor. The last night, we went against our better judgment and shared the beds with our older two. They are not used to sharing a bed. Enough said.
Three epic meltdowns. Based on all of the previous numbers this number might surprise you. But what might surprise you more is who had those meltdowns.
I kicked things off on our journey from Alabama to Texas. My husband was in charge of navigating our trip and so when he said that we would be driving through New Orleans, I was super excited. The closer we got to the city, the more my excitement grew. I wanted to drive over Lake Pontchartrain. I wanted to have beignets in the French quarter. I wanted to see the homes with the double balconies. I wanted to hear a jazz band playing on a street corner.
But as I watched our route taking shape, I realized that we were not going to go through the city like my husband had said. My disappointment was acute. We were so close and we drove right on by. My disappointment moved quickly to anger. You said we were going through New Orleans!!, I spat out at my sweet husband who quickly grew irritated with me. I thought we were, but I was wrong. And we are not driving an hour out of our way on a 12 hour road trip!, the reasonableness of his response only frustrating me more.
I huffed and I puffed and realized that I needed some time away from my husband. But how does one do that on a road trip in an enclosed space?!! So, I crawled back with my boys and watched a movie. By the time it was over, everything was back in perspective and I was able to apologize and be grateful for my husband once again. The rest of Louisiana and Baton Rogue made up for what I felt like I was missing by not seeing New Orleans.
I share this part of the story, because there is freedom in admitting my imperfections. I respond badly at times. Actually a lot of the time. I had expectations and I wanted what I wanted. The result of my selfishness was that I lashed out at my husband who takes such good care of our family, who loves me beyond reason, who patiently deals with my topsy-turvyness.
Most of the time, my kids don’t see their parents upset with one another. The truth is we have a pretty great relationship. But sometimes our kids need to see that we mess up too and we desperately need Jesus to be at work in our lives. We need grace and that was completely evident in my epic meltdown moment. I pray that they will remember how we resolved it and how their parents love each other, not because we are easy to love, but because we will always fight for each other and work to love one another even through difficult times.
The other meltdowns are not my story to tell, but in both of the other cases, we saw lessons learned, we saw forgiveness take place and we saw grace poured out on our family. It makes me wonder why we try so hard to hide our imperfections, our messes and yes, our sin, when it is really in and through these very things that Christ’s power is truly made perfect. I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that their parents have it all together and miss out on the fact that we are constantly thrown at the throne of God’s grace.
Not surprising to me was that there seemed to be a theme to the songs that came on the radio station that we listened to when we weren’t listening to movies. Over and over we heard the reminder that God takes our brokenness and our mess and he makes it beautiful. But if we never admit that we have any brokenness, how can he make it beautiful?
It’s in the admittance of sin and the submitting to God’s authority in our lives that he does something extraordinary in us.
This is freedom.
And all this from 72 hours of an epic road trip.