Doubts on becoming a full time travelling family
Whilst there is a lot of excitement and anticipation about our family round the world trip at the moment, there are also times when I feel a slight panic rising and I wonder if we are doing The Right Thing, or if we are completely mad.
I feel that the answer is probably yes to both, to a point- but I’m unconvinced that there is a Right Way for us to live our lives. This is a bone of contention in Christian circles, where some people think we are predestined for certain situations and others who think we generally choose the path we take.
We fall into that latter category, if we had to pick one (which we don’t, so, phooey). There are ‘better’ ways to live, certainly, and obvious ‘wrong’ things to do, but the idea that we have one set path that we are destined to walk down is not something that I swallow easily. We are uniquely made, we have abundant free will and there are such a huge number of variables that affect our choices that I just can’t see how we can have our lives tarmac-ed out for us before we even step on the path. Honestly, I don’t see a point in God making us as puppets; and if He had, I’m pretty sure the world would be in a considerably better state than it is now.
As humans we are constantly striving to progress, making mistakes and rectifying them, and it is only through making errors or behaving in a less than optimal way that we learn how to do things better. There is nothing inherently wrong with the way we have lived with our children for the past six years. We have a comfortable, modest home, employment and people we love around us. We have a great church life and our kids are happy living our current lifestyle. There is no urgent, desperate necessity to flee our situation; so why would we give it up and ‘risk’ it all?
Well, I suppose there are a few answers to that question.
One is: just because something is ok, doesn’t mean it can’t be vastly improved upon. Our kids are happy, we are happy and we have both found ways to serve our church and local community through voluntary work. However, travelling long term gives us the head space away from the 9-5 grind and constant housework to reassess our priorities and to figure out how we want to spend our time. We will have fewer immediate distractions and will therefore be able to peacefully and naturally think and pray about how we feel led to serve people. Although we try to serve as much as we can here, we feel that there are opportunities, jobs and projects out there that would allow us to give even more of ourselves and be of more benefit to people. If long term family travel allows us to get even slightly closer to knowing how to do this, it will be worth it.
The other thing is: we are not increasing risk by taking a round the world trip with our children; we are simply risking different things. Taking a quick risk assessment of our current lifestyle, I would say that our children are at risk of exposure to materialism and premature sexualisation; lack of physical freedom and mental health issues due to society’s narrow paradigms of life. Taking them to other cultures, a brief risk assessment would conclude that we are more at risk of malaria and other illnesses than if we stayed in England, and we are setting up a more challenging environment in which to make long-term friends who are in close physical proximity.
However, challenging does not mean it can’t be done. One of the most important things for us as parents- and indeed for all parents- is to be aware of the risks that we allow into our children’s lives, and to take every possible step to ensure that they can deal with the challenges in a healthy, supported way.
Speaking from experience, all of the things that are most highly prized in my life have come at great cost and extremely hard work. It is this that reassures me that this trip is a good thing, and it is also this that forewarns me that if we want it to be extraordinary it will involve some serious graft. When I think of the three things that I cherish above all else, it seems obvious and natural that the highest value things cost the most (duh). Here’s what I mean:
1. Any decent marriage partnership is run on an attitude of continued personal growth and a willingness to put the effort in to make it work. Love is not just a feeling; it is primarily an attitude manifested in action, and involves a considerable amount of grace and prioritising your spouse before yourself. When both parties do this, the marriage is fed with a stream of selfless acts and forgiving attitudes, even when those actions and words involve effort and sacrifice from the giving party. The more we give of our individual selves, the more the marriage as one unit is fed and nourished, and the more natural it becomes to live kindly and selflessly.
2. Kids. Sheesh kebabs, being a truly loving parent, and one worth listening to, takes more effort than I ever imagined. It involves putting your own agenda completely to one side in order to meet the needs of the tiny people in your life. It involves sleepless nights, sore boobs, too-tight clothes, missed social occasions and a lot of biting your tongue.
3. My relationship with God was essentially paid for by Jesus, so my input into it is minimal compared to the sacrifice that was made on the cross. However, keeping the relationship healthy involves commitment, time and courage. Every Sunday is set up to ensure that Patrick and I get to church three times between us, which leaves little time for anything else. Reading the bible, listening to preaches online and serving our church and community all involves sacrifice, but it is sacrifice that we love making and we do it joyfully.
And you know what? It is All. Worth. It. It seems to be true of the most important things- relationships- that the more you put in, the more you get out. And this is why I’m not worried about our trip, or the ‘risks’ involved. Jesus gave everything- everything – for us, and held nothing back; in doing so he fulfilled the highest possible potential of any human in history. We are going on our round the world trip in order to strengthen relationships within our family and with our brothers and sisters around the globe, and I can’t think of anything more worthy of risking what we have, than that.
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Travel journalists, home educating our lovely brood of 3 girls. Planning a year-long RTW trip late Summer 2017.