As Dotty and I got ready to head out for an overnight stay this holiday weekend we began packing the car as if we were going to be gone for well over a week. The entire back of my SUV was filled with everything I would need for any situation except a blizzard and since we are in Texas in July I felt pretty confident I was safe there.
(On second thought I better throw in a light jacket for both of us just in case.)
While we were putting bags in the car Dotty kept asking me things like...
Did you pack extra pillows?
Did you bring extra snacks?
Did you make sure we have enough to drink?
Do we have plenty of sunscreen?
Did you pack me extra shoes in case mine get muddy?
Do I have an extra swim suit?
Do we have extra batteries and chargers?
I reassured Dotty we had plenty of everything and then some! I learned from one of the best how to pack like a champ (aka like you are moving out of the country temporarily).
We picked up Dotty's friend who would be joining us for the overnight trip and off we went. As the girls watched a DVD I let my eyes enjoy the countryside I rarely saw and let my mind wander.
It didn't take long for my mind to head down a familiar path to Worrytown. I began to ask myself things like...
Did I pack extra patience?
Did I bring extra hugs?
Did I make sure I have enough love to go around?
Do I have plenty of grace to give?
Did I pack extra forgiveness in case my feelings get hurt?
Do I have an extra good attitude
Do I have kindness and generosity?
So often when we make special plans we make sure to bring all the right physical "stuff" but we forget to pack the really important "stuff". I am guilty of it too...in the past and on this most recent trip.
A few times I lost my temper. A few times I was short. A few times I was tired or hot or hungry and took it out on the people I love the most. Sadly the person who sees me at my worst is the person I love the most...Dotty.
Dotty sees the real me...and loves me anyway...God bless her. Luckily she is seeing a better me these days. Six or Seven years ago I never packed any extra patience, hugs, love, grace, forgiveness, good attitude, kindness, or generosity.
But thankfully people can change...if they want to.
Just like making a list of what to bring on a trip it is a conscious effort to try and do better. You have to see what you are missing and write it down to know that you need to get some of it.
For instance I can say to myself...
Hey...I was kind of hard on Dotty when she was hot and tired at the end of a long day. Maybe I need to get more patience and kindness as well as some extra hugs before a situation like this comes up again.
We are never going to be perfect but the point isn't to be perfect just to be better than we were before. I want Dotty to see my flaws. I also want her to see me apologize for my mistakes and I want her to listen to me when I tell her how I hope to do better in the future. Then (Lord willing) she will be able to see the change the next time something similar comes up.
Like in life I know I will almost always forget something whether it be my pillow or my patience but unlike my pillow intangible things like patience, forgiveness, and grace are easy to get once I notice I left them behind. All I have to do is stop and look again. In reality they are always there. I just have to dig a little deeper.