They’re all going on a summer holiday, but am I?
Summer is here, and people are planning, going on, wishing they were on or hoping to have some kind of holiday.
For many years I struggled to take any significant time off as a holiday; it was almost seen as a sign of machismo and pride that I could tell people how many days holiday I had lost at the end of a year, or how much I was carrying over. Little did I realise that they were looking back at me as if I was mad, not something special. Fairly obviously, I didn’t spend much (or any) time thinking about God’s intention as regards holidays.
At first glance, the Bible seems to say very little about going on holiday, certainly in the modern secularised sense of jetting off to a sun-trap for a couple of weeks to “get away from it all”. But the word ‘holiday’ comes from the joining of two words: “holy” and “day”. It is a day (or days) set aside from the regular day to day work or labour. Of course, this dates right back to creation, to the first holy day of Gen 2:3 – “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done”. As the Bible unfolds, more celebrations and feasts were set aside to celebrate and act as a reminder for all that God had done. Holidays are part of God’s intention for his children, taking time out from the normality of life to rest, enjoy something different and spend some time remembering what He has done for us.
So what about me?
Having recognised the importance of holidays, and that God actually wants us to take them, we come to what is, for many, a significant issue. Going on holiday can be challenging for single people, as so much about going on holiday seems geared towards families or couples. Adverts on TV portray young families enjoying all-inclusive fun and games, usually by the pool, or a couple having a romantic dinner in a beautiful location.
So what happens for single people as regards going away, and not just to the sun and the sea?
There are often “single supplements”, and penalties for single rooms; there is the awkwardness of sharing a room (or even an “Austrian-style” bed) with a friend; and even having to ask people whether they want to go with you, along with the risk of rejection. OK, there are a few positives. You’re free to travel alone and go exactly where you want, and there are cheaper breaks outside peak times and school holidays. For many, going on holiday alone is nothing to be worried about: backpacking across Asia, filling social media with exciting photographs from exotic locations, maybe even joining in on a charity project somewhere. Or sitting in a comfy chair with a good book or box set all day with no interruptions and no-one saying they are bored. But for many, holidaying on your own can be really lonely, especially eating dinner alone. It can be a stark reminder of the partner and children you don’t have. Others may end up not bothering with a holiday if the prospect of going alone feels more like a punishment than a treat.
Maybe I can?
If heading off alone isn’t for you, there are options.
There are group tours and all-inclusive package holidays. From exploring the Greek islands to trekking in Nepal, there are holidays to suit every taste. Some people go with friends, but there will always be other singles who are keen to make friends. So consider what adventures you’ve always dreamed of, and make them happen.
For others, there are specific interest groups that might fit your personality and hobbies. I have friends who are keen cyclists and annually one goes on a group cycling trip to watch parts of the Tour de France. The organisation is all done for them and they look forward to it all year.
The best holidays I had as a single person were with friends. With the advent of social media, you could post a message to a limited/closed group of people asking if anyone would be interested in arranging a holiday with you and others. You might feel a risk of rejection if no-one responds. But, by asking people to message or call privately, you are dipping your toe in the water. This is something that happens naturally, almost by osmosis, in younger people’s groups, but as we get older seems less “usual”. However, you might discover the opportunity to join in with a family at a cottage they have booked, or with a group already putting something together. You don’t have to join them for the whole time, and you can still do your own thing (as well as doing the odd bit of baby/child sitting). Be careful. You might end up organising the whole holiday for a group of single people!
Risk vs opportunity
When single people go away on holiday together, there can be temptations that come with being in close proximity with others. Those who are same-sex attracted have some particular challenges if they are expected to share sleeping accommodation with others of the same sex. How do you protect yourself from those temptations and thoughts when outside the day to day relative safety of familiar routines where you are surrounded by people, your job and everyday responsibilities? Temptations can range from going to or being invited to the wrong sort of bars or saunas, to lusting on beaches, through to porn on a hotel TV. Many people find airports and travelling a real-time place of temptation. Holidays can be times of indulging the wrong types of appetites, where it might not seem to matter as much. As Marcus Tullius Cicero put it, “The devil finds work for idle hands to do”. David famously found this out. In 2 Samuel 11:1, it states how he took a holiday: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. But David remained in Jerusalem”. What followed was the temptation with Bathsheba. So taking time out also allows the mind to wander. How can we protect ourselves against this?
Positive peer pressure
One of the most helpful ways of safeguarding ourselves is to be held accountable. Some times the word “accountability” can be a buzz word in Christian circles, and many may be confused about its exact meaning, but in this case it simply means having healthy checks on our lives that help to keep us focused and out of the weeds of sin. It might include telling someone about the temptations you fear, and the risks you are most concerned about, or just having a regular checkup as to how your walk with God is going. It is, in a sense, positive peer pressure! When you are away on holiday, knowing you are going to have a daily “chat” with a friend can keep you focused on doing what is right, and away from those temptations. In these days of instant messaging, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, you can keep in touch with your “ally” (accountability partner) throughout the holiday. Going through the most challenging time of my life I had an amazing friend who messaged me “hugs” every morning and throughout the day and then wished me “goodnight” every evening. Just having him asking how I was doing gave me support and strength when needed. Being there for you doesn’t mean they have actually to be there in person!
A refreshing break
To take us right back to the beginning: God’s purpose behind a holiday for you is that you should be refreshed, revived, and have the time to spend with Him. Time to remember what He has done for you and thanking Him for his love for you. Being on holiday is not a holiday from God. It is a place to root ourselves more in him, not less, while having fun! He wants us to take holidays, to enjoy them and for them to be “holy” days.
This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend. Click the button below to download your copy.
Download the Summer 2020 edition of Ascend