January 2nd was a little over a month ago - my dad’s birthday. We always try to spend the day doing something that he would’ve liked to do. This time Paige, mom and I took a drive up to Lake Arrowhead and spent the evening together. We drove around the lake admiring the houses we can’t afford, sneaking into areas we definitely weren’t supposed to be, and just having fun together. Dad would have been proud.
For me, in the past few months it’s been important to MAKE time for “fun.” It’s something I’ve struggled with ever since my dad passed away in October of 2015. Such a strange word to attach myself to when in reality I have a pain that runs deeper than I could ever describe. Having fun just hasn’t been the same and never will be since both Dad and Drew left this earth. No matter what I’m doing, in the back of my head I’m reminded of this thick, sad reality that I’m living in. I’ve described it as this dark cloud that hovers over my head everywhere I go - maybe you feel something similar to that. I’m right there with you. It’s a challenge to get away from that cloud of sadness, but I’ve realized it is SO important to push through and make it a priority to let the sunlight in, even if it’s just for a moment.
Fun isn’t the best word - I guess a better way to describe it is as a “mental vacation.” A few days after Andrew passed, Bob Goff came over to my house. He had reached out to our family and wanted to just sit and be with us in our shock and sadness - what an amazing man he is. One of the main things I took away from that hour that we spent with him was this idea of taking a mental vacation. He said when you’re in this time of such immense grief and sadness and all you can think about is “it,” try to set apart a certain amount of time every day to do something mindless. For us, in the middle of our shock and sadness, we decided to take two hours each day to just put a movie on and do our best to not think about anything. It gave us permission to rest our minds, to not think about this overwhelming reality that we were faced with.
I’ve tried my best to keep up with this idea of a mental vacation, and I think we all need to do something like this. Maybe it’s not once a day for you, but rather once a week….whatever you need. Now that life is moving a little bit faster for me, that two hours a day has shifted to me trying to do something fun once or twice a week. It sounds so simple, but it’s not that easy in this world we live in, full of stress and overwhelming expectations that we carry around with us.
The bottom line is: Make Time.
If you’re in a season where things seem to be going good and you truly feel happy and full, I’d encourage you to make time to care for someone around you that is hurting. Even though we are very good at masking our pain, we all have at least one person close to us that is hurting. Get them out of the house, take them to dinner and spend time with them. You don’t even need to talk about what they are going through (they may prefer it that way) - just be there for them. When someone feels empty and alone, that time you spend with them could make a greater impact than you will ever know. We are not meant to do this life alone.
If you’re in a season of pain and overwhelming grief and things just aren’t going your way, if you feel like it’s never going to get better, if you feel like giving up… I want to encourage you to do everything you can to make time for mental vacations. Allow yourself to take a step back from the daunting wall in front of you, and take a break. And trust me, I know this is not easy. It takes serious discipline, but it just might be the best thing you could do for yourself. I know it has been helpful for me.
Lately I have been trying to spend intentional time with my people - the people I know will be there for me no matter what. Sometimes we talk about the hard stuff, and sometimes we just have fun. Either way, amongst our busy schedules, we do our best to make time for it.
In it together,