It’s 9:45pm on a Sunday night: the dishes have been done, there’s apple turnovers in the oven and Day Spa, a three-wick candle phenomenon, is burning silently but powerfully next to me. Soft jazz wafts through the air. This is no regular Sunday evening. Perched on a dining table of an immaculately decorated Airbnb, I feel compelled to share why weekend trips have such a special place in my heart. The two girlfriends travelling with me have kindly given this introvert some ‘writing time’; little do they know their gift finds me between being relaxed and being inspired.
Just last week I was telling a friend about this upcoming trip. Her response came as a jolt: ‘You’re all single, right?’ The unintended pause on my behalf revealed my shock when my community reminds me that being single in your thirties is more than a lack of a good gift from God, but an issue that needs urgent fixing. Pulling me out of my own insecurity, my friend replied, ‘I wish it were that easy to go on a weekend trip!’ immediately reminding me that she is a mother of two and wife of one. Going for some R&R for more than a few hours is not a solo decision for her. I vowed to invite her on the next trip.
These weekend trips have become a lifeline for when I have lacked the time and energy to properly invest in my friends. Actually, no. These trips have been a lifeline for when I have lacked the time and energy to properly lean on my friends for support. Although I do not live alone, rarely do I come home to a person who is appropriately committed to share in my day’s burdens and to whom I have vowed to share theirs. Wanting to travel somewhere does not guarantee a travel buddy any more than receiving an invitation to a wedding guarantees a plus one. This of course is a surface reading of the difference between doing life as a married person and as a single person. But it is in this reading that three friends decided to navigate life not as three independent single women, but as three independent single women united in Jesus. Including carving out deliberate space for us to share burdens and joys over a weekend.
These trips are a reminder that there are other wonderful expressions of life-long commitment in friendship; wonderful insofar as we have many things in common; tastes in Airbnbs, love for nature, books, nanna naps, art and being loved by Jesus. And the opportunities to experience the not so wonderful: different personalities (as one Harry Potter quiz on a long car trip home revealed we were a Slytherin, a Hufflepuff and a Ravenclaw all travelling together), quirks which have turned annoying, selfish actions, sharp comments and the temptation to withdraw completely when energy levels drop. Though this does hurt, it doesn’t surprise us. The Bible tells us that the church is made up of people that were once enemies who are now called to love one another (Ephesians 2:11-22, for some incredible words).
On these trips, we all have the capacity to be each other’s worst nightmares. But Jesus gives us the opportunity and ability to be united despite our differences (social, political, racial, theological, cultural). To be united goes beyond tolerating, it is extending a hand to wash the dishes. It is saying sorry for being crabby to your friends whilst on holidays. I am terrible at both these things, but my friends hope in Jesus on my behalf when they keep including me in their travel plans. Both the wonderful and the hurtful can come out in a 72 hour window. Some say travelling with friends can make or break your friendship. I am thankful to God that he has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit that helps us show each other grace, love, patience, kindness and mercy, not just on these trips, but for life. To that end, I honour Jesus for his vision of what life can be with him at the center of friendship.
Some of the Airbnbs that have made our trip all the more rich! (Not an ad)
Portland, VIC (pictured above)