On Vacationing with a Neurologically Disabled Family Member

do all in loveMy family just returned from a vacation at the beach. We enjoyed rest, relaxation, gorgeous weather, and huge waves. We also had a chance to catch up with some old friends who were staying at a local beach during the same week.

I am overwhelmingly thankful to God for our vacation.

BUT (yes, there is always a “but” with hidden disabilities) … I was made painfully aware once again of how my husband’s disability impacts his daily life. In the “real world,” our lives are carefully choreographed to minimize disruption and change. And I realized regardless of my own desires, I need to try to recreate that environment on vacation.

We rented the same beach house we rented last year. This rental is a blessing to us and we enjoy it immensely. But early in our marriage, Ben and I determined to find new places and new experiences to enjoy together. We traveled extensively (how thankful I am for those early days of our marriage!). We never went to the same restaurant twice. We were adventurers, explorers, venturing together through life while enjoying the unfamiliar and the unknown. And we never stopped saying, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof; His people and all who dwell in it.” (Psalm 24:1).

Now that hidden disabilities have entered our lives through my husband’s seizures and subsequent brain injury, our lifestyle has changed. Instead of being explorers, we thrive on routine. As I said, our lives are carefully choreographed to minimize disruption and change…key elements of vacation.

On vacation, my husband’s disabilities kicked into overdrive. He would leave the beach each day by noon to return to our rented townhouse. Then he would shower and sleep for several  hours…hours that left me in charge of the children, trying to plan an afternoon filled with experiences and memories.

When we returned to the townhouse, Ben was usually sleeping. He wanted to stay in for the rest of the day…cook dinner, relax, watch some TV — all the same things he would normally do at home. I wanted to go out, see the town, walk amidst the crowds and enjoy the novelty of being in such a different environment.

But hidden disabilities require that I make sacrifices for the one I love. Because of Ben’s lack of executive function and initiative, I need to plan all of our activities. Because of his constant fatigue, I need to build in times for him to rest and recharge. And I know God calls me to do it joyfully (And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 1:13).

I am so thankful that God gave me an understanding spirit with my husband on this vacation.

Our vacation may not have been a dream vacation. It may have too closely resembled our beach vacation last year (which Ben only vaguely remembers). But we spent it together, enjoying one another’s company. And that, my friends, is what trusting God is all about. Not looking at life the way we want it to be, but looking at it the way it is. And then moving on, with faith, that the Lord’s plan is not our plan and we can rest in His love and care for us.

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