There’s something incredibly wonderful about the Mediterranean Sea.
The beauty of the salt water gently lapping against the sandy shoreline. The way the sun glints off the slow-moving waves. The calm of a non-American beach where time has slowed and people smile and wish you a good morning.
The place I get to be for the next ten days.
I’m working with a mission group in Cyprus to encourage women who work in other countries as they deal with the challenges of a life lived out loud for Jesus. In whatever capacity.
It translates to a nice hotel and a beach view from our window.
Hard stuff, right?
Before I left, several friends wished me well on my vacation. I paused. “I’m not going on vacation. I’m on a mission trip to help and serve others.”
“On an island in the Mediterranean, right?”
“Enjoy your vacation.
I really didn’t need to explain myself, but I felt I had to. This wasn’t a junket or a lark. It was work. It’s altruistic as we reach out and help others.
In a very beautiful place.
There are many who would love to be where I am right now. I would love to be where I am right now–if it was pure vacation time. No responsibilities, no expectations, no work.
Appearance is everything. Showing up in an exotic location, for whatever reason, sounds fun. The adventure of a new place and new experience.
It is all that–and so much more. But who listens to the rest of the story when the opening lines are making them jealous? Who cares about the ulterior motive for being someplace if the setting is what they’ve longed to experience themselves? What they feel they need at the moment?
I felt guilty for going on this trip for those reasons. A grand opportunity to serve, yes. But in a place that’s highly desirable.
Life is unfair.
Did you ever notice how looking at other people’s lives and experiences makes your own life pale in comparison? That everyone else has better opportunities, more fun, and lives filled with excitement? What others have to deal with, the life baggage they carry with them, never seems as tedious as mine.
I go there a lot. Wishing I had that person’s opportunities, like a book publishing deal, or this person’s lifestyle, such as living in the mountains in a glorious cabin.
It’s also not wanting to have the pain of loss and grief that others experience. I’d rather not lose my husband to ALS or cancer. I’d rather not have my children get seriously injured or killed. I’d rather not have to deal with huge financial loss.
Reality? We can’t determine the trajectory of our lives. We can make good choices–but someone else’s poor decisions can affect us dramatically. I can work hard toward a goal, only to have my efforts destroyed by a miscalculation.
Great decisions don’t guarantee desired results.
God alone can walk us through the challenges and hard times. Providing strength, courage and love when the going gets tough. Because it will get tough.
The journey is part of the gift.
Even on a beach in the Mediterranean.