We arrived home last night at 1am from our week in St Lucia, and immediately collapsed into bed. It was a long day of travel— we took our time getting to the airport (4 hours or so), exploring the island as we went. It was a beautiful day, and we took stunning photos before boarding our flight and starting the flight home. By the time we collapsed into bed, we had been traveling for 15 hours, and changed from 85 degrees to 20. “Yeah, you certainly left paradise,” you might say.
Yes, we left the beaches and the sun and the warmth and the unlimited cool beverages behind us. But I don’t really mind. We enjoyed our time away, and we are so thankful to have such sweet memories to look back on for years to come, but we also realize that beach-resort-living, though nice on occasion, isn’t real life. It’s a form of fantasy-land, an escape from reality, which can be (and was!) healthy for a time. But when the time came to return home, both of us were ready to return home. We don’t want an escape from our real life! We love our real life!
Granted, it’s not always easy— real life has work and toil and discomfort. It involves meal planning and cleaning and careful scheduling and the hard work of intentional communication. Real life has bumps along the way, and budget discussions, and disagreements, and frustration with time and actions and nothing at all. Real life shows us our own discontentments and insufficiencies, and that is uncomfortable and downright distasteful at times. But you know what? That was all there on our island escape, as well. We might have escaped the snow and cold and scheduled to-do lists, but we hadn’t escaped ourselves. We were still selfish and discontent and complaining at times.
But if that’s real life, why do we say that we love it? Because we have found a sweet unity that comes from working through the hard things, the distasteful things, and the downright rotten parts of our own hearts, and working through them together. That unity, that “oneness” is something we wouldn’t trade for the world. It is precious to us. I love Buck more every single day, and he loves me more— not because we are perfect every single day, but because we both work hard at our marriage daily. We work to sacrificially love one another, and show patience with one another, and set aside our own presumptions and assumptions to truly understand one another. It is certainly hard work, but we love it.
Some may say that we left paradise behind in St. Lucia, and in a large sense they would be accurate. But we have a better kind of “paradise” here at home— the imperfect, always-failing-but-still-growing-and-loving-in-spite-of-it kind of paradise that we have come to love more than any island retreat. And in that sense, I am always happiest here at home.
PS— the below images was taken at sunset with my iPhone, and then converted to watercolor using the fantastic app Waterlogue. SUCH a great way to uniquely capture memories.