Repost: Guilt Producers: The Family Vacation
August 14, 2010 by John Knight
Today we’re headed for our week away without Paul (or internet access). This post is a repeat of one I wrote last year on the subject of spending time away from him. Lord willing, fresh content will return around August 25.
This week we pack up the van and head out for our annual family vacation. Which means that I will be dealing with a nagging guilt.
Why? Because Paul will stay with his grandmother for the week.
The reason I struggle with guilt can be summarized in two statements:
- How can we call it a family vacation when a member of the family isn’t around! Logically I know this is our future anyway as my children grow up and leave home. So this one nags at me a little, but not as much as the next one.
- He isn’t included because of his multiple disabilities. I feel like I’m discriminating against my own son because of his disabilities.
Then the other nagging questions start to add up: what am I teaching my children about their brother; what if something happens to him; what makes me think anybody can take care of him like we can; what if I enjoy this week without him a little too much?
Do you have a guilt-producer like that?
Thankfully, having him stay with Grandma-on-the-farm is a good thing:
- He’s comfortable, safe and loved.
- Grandma has things that he likes to do. A week on a farm is a great thing for a kid. Where we’re going on vacation, he would be bored.
- All the ‘stuff’ that he needs is easily accessible.
- Everything slows down when Paul is around, and the other kids enjoy a few days of just going as the Spirit leads us.
And I’m grateful that we now have the benefit of doing this for several years, and it actually works out pretty well. Paul, in his own way, has indicated in the past that his week has been just fine. The other children really do enjoy the unhindered access they have to Dianne and me.
Having Paul away for a week has not translated into their thinking less of their brother or that he is a nuisance when we are all back together. My daughter will probably miss him as much, possibly more, than I do because of the special relationship she has with him.
We know lots of families where one or several children have disabilities. Some do what we do. Others do not. Thankfully, this ‘fraternity’ of families is very gracious and decisions like these fall under the ‘do what you need to’ category without condemnation from anyone. That’s one of the great benefits of being part of this unusual network of families and helps quiet the nagging questions.
And I know that he is in God’s good care, and God has provided a diligent, wonderful woman to care for him in his grandmother who also trusts Jesus. When Paul writes that “God will supply every need of yours” in Philippians 4:19 he meant things like this as well. And when Paul writes, “do not be anxious about anything” in Philippians 4:6
, he meant this, too.
So, today I am not surprised by that annual feeling of guilt and glad to have multiple ways to address it. In the scheme of things, this isn’t that big of a deal and Paul is also given a pleasant vacation.
But when the consequences are bigger and Paul’s (or Dianne’s or the other children’s) comfort, future, or even life is at stake, I’d rather have a history of trusting in the promises of God, even on small things like this, than in my feeble, finite, short-term vision and abilities. God is that capable, that interested in the small things for his glory, and that good.
P.S. And we have all vacationed together. Joni Camp at Castaway Club is wonderful and has been a tremendous blessing. Just not this year