By Jeremy Freeman
Last week, I went on vacation with my family to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I only tell you the location because sane people do not go to Florida at the end of July. Can you say, “HOT?” Unfortunately, this was the only week in the summer we could go, so off we went.
I am a thinker and one whose mind is always turning. My mind simply never shuts down. While we were at Disney World, I found myself watching, listening, learning, and picking up on many little life lessons along the way, some of which are fairly profound, if you ask me. I hope these things I am about to share with you will encourage you as much as they did me.
First, and most important, it is sometimes essential to keep the expectation bar low. I am a person who strives for excellence in almost everything I do. Whether it is placing my toothbrush perfectly in its holder or preaching a sermon, I strive to do things right. I have high expectations for others and myself. However, when it comes to going to Disney World in July with twelve people, two of which are three years of age and younger in the hottest part of the summer, I learned how important it is to lower my expectations.
Truly, I was not really excited about this vacation. I knew it was going to be tough. Long lines, 100-degree temperatures, everything expensive, lots of people, screaming children, etc. Before the trip even got here, I simply decided to set the expectation bar low. That small decision saved my vacation. Because I was expecting the worst, anything above that was success. Sounds silly right? Silly as though it may be, it allowed me to have an incredible vacation and reminded me that sometimes we need to lower our expectations in life. Sometimes our expectations are too high for people, other situations, and ourselves, which can result in tremendous frustration. We must remember that it is okay to occasionally lower the expectation bar.
Second, we can do much more than we think we can. I was amazed at what I saw at Disney. The creativity is off the charts. Do you remember when the “Merry Go Round” was an exciting ride? Well, just try Disney’s new Avatar ride. It is unbelievable. If you ever want to feel like you can fly, you must ride that ride. I was amazed that human beings could be that creative and innovative with technology to produce such a realistic ride. In life, we should not sell ourselves short. God has gifted us uniquely and we should use our gifts and talents to the fullest measure possible.
Third, human beings are a resilient people. I watched people stand in line for hours, in over 100 degree heat, with screaming children, only to ride a three minute ride. If there was ever a time to give up, it would be then. The determination was there though. People would not let anything keep them from getting on that ride. It made me chuckle a little bit, but also stand amazed. If people are willing to endure all those obstacles for a silly ride, then surely they can endure difficult circumstances for more significant things in life. Disney World reveals that people are tough.
Fourth, Americans are not as broke as they think they are. I paid five dollars for a bottle of water for every member of my family multiple times a day. If water is five dollars, you can imagine what the food, parking, lodging, etc., costs. It was not just me paying this, it was thousands upon thousands of other people. As a pastor, I often hear people say, “I just do not have money to give to the Lord.” Wrong! We have all have money, yes some more than others, but it is how we spend and prioritize our money. We were only able to go to Disney World because my parents went and helped significantly, but we would never take a trip like that, if it meant not being able to give to the Lord’s work. People need to re-evaluate their spending and make sure their priorities are in the right place. The money is there to give to the Lord, but most people would often rather spend it in other ways and then simply say they do not have it to give.
Finally, moments of glory often come after moments of struggle. I told people that going to Disney World in July is a lot like parenting. It is a lot of work, filled with a lot of stress, but if you stay the course, there are moments of glory and joy. We made great memories with our family, but it was work. We ran all over Disney, sweating together, laughing together, crying together, but whatever we did, we did together. The struggle was worth it because of the time together and memories made.
The same is true in life. Do not give up too early. Good things often follow hard circumstances. We just have to keep going and enduring, and when we do, glory and joy follow. I hope some of these life lessons from Disney World have encouraged you. See you next week!