Author’s note: This is a re-posting from my old blog site. It was one of my favorites, so I wanted to post it here.
My wife and I had such high hopes. We were going to take our kids to a state park, hike to a waterfall, observe God’s glory in creation, play in the sparkling water at the foot of the falls, and most importantly, create some wonderful family memories. It would be a fantastic experience we would all remember forever. It started out so well. The drive to Dupont State Forest outside of Hendersonville, N.C. was beautiful. The weather was cool, the trees were green, and the sun was shining.
We were going to have a good time.
Then, like the water cascading down the falls, our hopes came crashing down to reality.
It started with Child #3, who complained the entire way down the trail. “My stomach hurts. My feet hurt. I don’t like walking. I want to go home,” he said. Despite the best threats and bribes we could muster the whining continued for the half mile down the trail.
Still, we were going to have a good time.
We arrived to the base of the falls and sat down for our picnic lunch. Then the complaints began from Child #2 and Child #3. “I didn’t want a ham sandwich. Ew, there’s a bug. My pants are dirty. Mack touched me. She’s eating all of the grapes.”
Still, we’re going to have A GOOD TIME.
Bellies full and nerves a bit frayed, we climbed to the pool by the falls. Pictures were taken with smiling happy faces. We took our shoes and socks off to let our feet rest in the cool waters. The glory of God was seen in nature. My wife and I hugged each other and smiled. We said to our kids, “Enjoy yourselves, children. See what God has made. Look at the beautiful water. Listen to the roar of the falls as it –” “MOMMY, MACK FELL IN THE WATER!” yelled child #1.
“WHAAAA! MY SHIRT IS WET. MY PANTS ARE WET. I’M COLD,” said child #3.
“Mommy, I stepped in the water,” said child #2.
“Why?” asked my wife.
“She pushed me!” said child #2.
“No I didn’t!” said child #1.
“I’m sorry I got wet,” said child #3.
“Where’s my socks?” I asked.
“I think I dropped them in the water,” said my wife.
“I want to go home,” said everybody.
Still…we’re going to have a good time.
Now each of us is either dirty, wet, frustrated, tearful, or all of the above as we headed back to the car. Child #2 is wearing my shirt because she fell into the water and her clothes are soaking wet. Child #1 is sulking because she had pushed Child # 2 into the water and was soundly rebuked for her behavior. I’m carrying child #3 because his legs hurt and I’m tired of hearing him complain.
Still…we’re going to…oh forget it.
So what is the point? Do we as parents just give up on these outings? Should we not try to make pleasant memories for our families? Is my wife crazy to keep trying this sort of thing? Of course she is! Wait, that’s not my final answer.
The truth is sinful/fallen children and parents, living in a fallen world, who go to water-falls, (see what I did there?), are going to experience days like today. We’re going to screw up, fall into the water, yell at our kids, and our best laid plans for great memories are going to go awry.
So what do we do? We alternatively laugh or cry at our experiences and seek the Lord for the grace to redeem even the worst of days.
On the way back to the van, my wife, the more Christ-like of the two of us, stopped us in the middle of the trail and asked us all to pray. So even though we were tired, wet, frustrated, angry, bitter, and disappointed, we stopped and asked God to give us better attitudes, forgive us, and help us love one another. We acknowledged the morning had been a disaster and prayed for his grace for the rest of the afternoon.
Then we went and got ice cream.
And we all had a good time.