A few years ago I participated in an online challenge. We had to post something different about ourselves each day, and one day we were to share what one word we would use to describe ourselves or our character. The word I chose was resolve. Google dictionary defines that trait as “a strong determination to do something.” I remember thinking about what word I would choose for a long time and why I landed on that one. I felt I had a strong resolve, and that it was something not everyone seemed to have.
For example, a friend told me they were going to run a marathon. Months later I inquired how training was going, and my question was met with a chuckle. “Oh, I’m not running,” said my friend. “It took too much time.” I felt frustrated with this person who hadn’t lived up to their word.
I encountered other, similar circumstances as well. Every time someone I knew said they were going to do something and then didn’t, I evaluated what I was committing to do and made sure I was following through. I didn’t want to be a person who failed to keep her word.
Fast-forward to this year. Back in February, I made reservations for a campsite for a summer weekend. Several other families were also camping with our group—more than had in the past. What had started at about eight families was pushing twenty families.
As the weekend approached, I started to experience an uneasiness about the camping trip. However, I immediately dismissed those feelings. I had said we were going camping, so we were going camping.
A few days before we were to leave, I checked the weather forecast. It called not only for rain but for massive storms two of the three nights. My heart sank. It had rained a good portion of our time the previous year, and I really didn’t want to encounter that again.
I kept having the feeling that we shouldn’t go. Our family had already had an overcommitted summer, and as much as we enjoy camping, I felt the Holy Spirit impressing on me that we weren’t supposed to go that weekend. Even so, I wrestled with the fact that I had committed to going. I had made the reservation. Others were expecting us to go.
After my husband and I talked, we agreed that the right thing for us to do was stay home. We discussed it with the kids, too, and shockingly, they were all in agreement that we shouldn’t go. We decided we would instead spend the weekend as a family, taking fun day trips. And if the weather turned out to be good, we would go to the campground one day and spend time with our friends.
I can’t describe the freedom I felt when I canceled our site reservation. A weight lifted off my shoulders, and I was only out a small cancellation fee.
My family spent those days sightseeing and going to cities we had never visited. We packed lunches, rode bikes, took a ferry ride, ate expensive ice cream, rode a train, camped in our backyard, and thoroughly enjoyed our time together. We also went to the campground for an afternoon and spent time with our friends.
Having resolve is a wonderful character trait, and I’m so glad it’s a word I can use to describe myself. But do I think I didn’t have resolve when canceling our camping trip? Not one bit. Being a mother means making decisions that put our families first. In February, it made perfect sense for us to make camping plans for late summer. However, when that time came, I knew it wasn’t what was best for our family. I have come to understand that, yes, I want to be a person of my word, but I also want to be in tune with what the Holy Spirit is pressing on me.
After our weekend, my husband asked me if we could put another camping trip on our calendar for next summer—with every intention of not going.
Live fully. Keep your word. Listen to the Holy Spirit. And plan a fake camping trip.
Heather Gerwing is a homeschooling mom of four. She is a Jersey girl at heart but now lives in Michigan with her husband Jeff and their kids. Heather enjoys reading, coffee-ing, worshipping and writing. She is passionate about her family and living the full life. You can find her at heathergerwing.com.
Photograph © Priscilla du Preez, used with permission