I bought the plane ticket on a whim. During my eight years in Colorado, I had never once flown back to Washington to see my parents and siblings at Thanksgiving. It wasn’t practical. Instead, I flew home to spend Christmas with them. It just made sense.
But that year I’d had a tough season at work, my baby sister had just gotten married (while I was still decidedly single) and I was homesick. So I found a decent fare (I wasn’t going that crazy) and told only one of my sisters so I could surprise the rest of my family.
The look on my parents’ faces when I came down the stairs of my sister’s house on Thanksgiving morning confirmed that one of my most impractical decisions had also been one of my best.
Walking on the Wild Side
I have always been a practical person. Whether it’s a life decision, a major purchase or a way of spending my time, I weigh the pros and cons and choose what’s reasonable. But something I’ve learned over the years is sometimes it’s the impractical things that make life worth living. Here are three ways to embrace impracticality.
Put people before tasks. My first semester of college, I didn’t have a social life. I always chose to study over going out with friends. But a late-night Christmas celebration with my roommate and her friends (during finals week) showed me the error of my ways. In an academically challenging environment, studying was always the practical choice, but it was not always the best choice or the one that would serve me the best through life. I needed friendship and community too.
Love extravagantly. I love how the NIV translates 1 John 3:1: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” Other verses tell us that God provides for our needs out of His riches (Philippians 4:19) and does abundantly more than we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Not to mention, Jesus tells a story about a shepherd (who is God) leaving the 99 sheep to find the one lost sheep! God does not deal with us in a practical manner, and our interactions with others should be marked by extravagant love more than practicality.
Splurge occasionally. While I’m not promoting financial irresponsibility, there is a time for splurges. Whether it’s taking a once-in-a-lifetime trip, replacing the worn college table with a nice dining-room set or giving a generous gift to someone in need, these things can add greater value to life and create priceless memories.
Splurging doesn’t only have to do with money, either. Recently I read the story of a young woman who committed to following a particular diet in order to lose weight. She was so disciplined that she wouldn’t eat certain foods, even when she was a guest at someone’s house. Her mother delighted in serving up home-cooked comfort food, but because the young woman was so committed to her diet, family dinners went by the wayside. Less than a year later, the woman’s mother passed away from fast-moving cancer. As the young woman told her story, she encouraged others to keep dieting in its place. Being too practical had cost her precious time with her mom.
That Thanksgiving, as I stood next to my dad, his arm around my shoulder, he said, “From now on, we’re flying you home every Thanksgiving, girl. It’s worth it.” Little did I know that by the next Thanksgiving, I would be married. An impractical decision led to one final, single Thanksgiving with my family – and I’m so grateful.