We have a spring time tradition here in the Wulkan household. Well, more of a tax season not-fun tradition.
What happens is this. We spend February and March dreaming and planning our summer vacation. Usually a road trip, hopefully somewhere new and maybe slightly more exotic than our normal. But not extravagant...because we've not got the cash.
The excitement builds, that deep breath that comes with spring and refreshment after a long, cold winter.
Now, here's two things you should know about me... one: I HATE winter. I hate being cold, I hate snow, I hate icy roads... HATE it! Two: I love travelling. All travelling. Road trips, plane trips, boat trips, small, big... I LOVE travelling.
So the building excitement of March, when I am planning this year's low budget but always fantastical summer vacation is, in my mind, the best part of the year. It feels like freedom. It feels like I can breathe. It feels like living. For me, being out of my house and exploring is what it means to be alive.
Every year, I would get geared up. 100 percent buy in. Every year, I would think "this is the year my boys are going to love exploring and we'll have an amazing family time together and grow closer and love each other so much and see the world".
And every year, just after our tax refund would land in our bank account and my dreams would lie before me.... our van would break down. Or one year our furnace.
And not just break down, need an oil change and a flush and you're on the road again breakdown... but a "you will need $3500.00 to fix this problem" kind of break down. Oh! Which just so happens to be the money you were hoping to use for your fantastic summer vacation.
Every stinking year!
And when you're not really flush with cash, the choice of having a vehicle or going on vacation is kind of a no brainer... the van won every time. And the vacations were... cheaper, strained, and way less exciting.
And every year, I would rail against God. I was so frustrated and discouraged. It seemed to me a gross injustice when others were heading off on long flights to exotic destinations and we could hardly manage a cheap, no frills road trip.
Now, I might need to add a little disclaimer at this point in time. I am grateful for all I have...and I was even back then. That being said, while I'd love you to consider this story as more anecdotal than a precise picture of my character, I will admit to being somewhat...maybe a lot..less emotionally mature in those days.
I've learned a lot. Some through study. Some through experience.
And if I had a choice, I'd probably take the broken down van every time over what I've got going on right now. But what I won't take, is the whiny, entitled attitude.
Yes, every spring was filled with disappointment. Yes, feeling angry was a valid emotion. Yes, it was right to not further debt by vacationing anyway. And... I did not suffer well.
I suffered loudly, impatiently. I wailed to God that Pastors, doing the very work of God deserved better vacations than we were getting. (and yes, I'm truly embarrassed for that) I suffered immaturely and childish.
Today, I sit here, cringing at myself but grateful for all I've learned and practiced. Perfect? Not even close. But better at suffering well? Yes.
Because here I am, stage 4 breast cancer, with kids in therapy, chaos in our home... and peace in my heart.
Justifiably, I have actual real things to whine about right now. The headache I've had for the last 3 days that has put me in bed a few times. The anxiety from my kid calling me names. The stress of not having enough energy to clean my house.
But here's what I'm finding. As I acknowledge my suffering, I take away it's control over me. As I acknowledge the pain and the grief in my life, I am able to find joy. As I share my stories with those around me, I give a voice to others who can't speak for themselves. We share our suffering and in that, we find love.
So my goal in this... to suffer well. Suffer graciously. Suffer humbly. Suffer joyously.
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hop of the glory of God. Not only so, but we glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." Romans 5:1-5
Perseverance, character, hope. Suffer well.