It won't shock anyone who knows us that we don't plan ahead so much. We love to go with the flow and cram adventures into the empty spaces. The downside to living like this is that often, the planners have already snagged the good spots and we get what's left. Also, with our lifestyle, we squeeze the life out of every minute, so there isn't a lot of margin when things go wrong….
That's how we found ourselves rolling up to the last available campsite after dark. Imagine our joy to find not one, but TWO blinding street lights shining on the spot where our tent would be set up. Normally, the best thing about tent camping is the way you sleep, and the way you wake up. Nature sounds all night, the crisp morning air, the way the sun rise lights up your tent slowly, welcoming you to the best part of the day. That is, unless your tent is directly in the line of fire from two street lamps, then it's more like you are sleeping in a glow stick.
This isn't our first rodeo, and this isn't atypical behavior, so we have learned to bring extra tarps just in case…That's how we found ourselves setting up what can best be described as 'bless their hearts, are they homeless?" Normally, it's something I laugh off, but that night, I was hangry. Our fire took forever to catch, when I pulled out our cast iron dutch oven, it had a definite rusty film from being boxed up since spring. In our chaotic reentry into the fall camping season we neglected to double check it's condition as we rushed to pack up. That's how we wound up eating slightly brown, warmish chicken dumplings next to our homeless tent under the glare of street lights.
I was frustrated. I was grouchy. I was convinced that we had been shoved into a fake site the park had crammed into a tiny plot of land for additional revenue. My walk through the glorious other campsites to the bathhouse didn't dissuade my feelings. They were tucked into the darkness of wooded spaces, their twinkle lights strung long before they were needed. It's a short journey in those moments to resent everything about your assigned spot in life. It's easy to assume everyone else got there with ease, has endless resources to plan ahead to make sure they have everything beautifully situated. It's easy to get down on yourself for not being perfect, for not being able to have your junk together like it appears everyone else does. It's easy to think that no matter how hard you work or how hard you try, it's just never good enough.
Until the light of morning reveals a different perspective.
Even though our tent looks ridiculous from the outside, inside it was just as dark as we hoped for a perfect nights sleep. Even though we booked our site last, when the sun broke through the darkness of night, and I opened the tent flap, daylight revealed that our spot was actually huge and beautiful and glorious. There was so much space for the kids to run around, play, and explore.
It reminded me of a truth that is so easy to forget when you are surrounded by darkness and fake light: when we evaluate our lives in this state, the enemy will use smoke and mirrors to direct our eyes to the flaws, the chaos, the things that will leave us discouraged and less than. He wants us all up in our feelings and all up in unhealthy comparisons so that we will walk around resenting others for their assumed perfection and ease. He wants us to believe we have been dealt an unfair hand, he wants to rob us of joy and contentment and peace. He uses intentional reflections in darkness hoping to have us so tangled in bondage that when the light of day shines, we will miss the truth it exposes. He will even use the tapestry of our lessons learned as a weapon if we will let him: like our tarped up tent.
How often have we submitted to his lies? Where in your life have you picked the night view as your story narrative, and missed the beauty that daytime longs to reveal? It's time to hold off on evaluating until light breaks through. We get to do that. When situations seem horrible, when our view is bleak, when our vantage point is discouragement, wait on the Lord, be of good courage and He will strengthen your heart (Psalm 27:14). We get to take thoughts captive when they try to lead us towards darkness. We are called to walk in paths of righteousness for His namesake. When whispers in our ear tell us our life sucks, reject the temptation to agree. Set your mind to rest in Him until His light reveals truth. Ask Him where you have made agreements with the dark views. Ask Him to help you bravely reevaluate and look for His goodness, even when the draw to succumb to the darkness is heavy. Be brave. Be wise. Reclaim your story in light of His glory and grace.