I sat in my car, waiting to pick up my daughter from preschool and scrolling through Instagram on my phone. As rain started pelting my windshield, tears started soaking my cheeks. That’s when I decided not to open Instagram for the rest of the weekend.

Last summer I made the choice to stay home instead of traveling to the beach with my fellow (in)courage writers. It had been a rough year, money was tight, and I already had two other trips planned for the fall.

It just made sense to skip this trip.

And, as it turns out, being home that week was paramount for my family. Just days before, we’d unexpectedly decided to enroll my daughter in a new preschool. Long story short, the school she’d attended the two years before was no longer a good place for her or our family, and we were surprised and blessed to find an opening in [what turned out to be] a fantastic preschool closer to my office.

Introducing my four-year-old to a new school with new teachers and new friends was a delicate dance that required nerves of steel on my part and a brave face on hers. Well, a kind-of brave face with just a few tears leaking out of her nervous eyes! Had I dropped her off on Day 2 and hopped on a plane across the country, well, that would have made the transition a lot more challenging.

Plus, I would have felt terrible.

But I didn’t know that when I chose to stay home months before. I just knew I wasn’t supposed to go.

HOWEVER, none of that made my heart any less sad when I saw my friends posting pictures and updates from the beach, “showing off” the great time they were having . . . without me.

That wasn’t the first time I grieved over missed opportunities, connections and just plain fun. When your world involves a great deal of social media like mine does, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the shared experiences others are having without me. And, obviously, the world existed before the Internet – and that world included plenty of times I missed the slumber party or the mission trip or the training.

Whether it’s a conference (don’t even TALK to me about this year’s Allume, which I will NOT be attending, boohoo!) or a concert or a church retreat or a girlfriends getaway or a couples camping trip or a girls night out – we’ve all felt left out. We’ve seen posts or heard remember whens, we’ve liked photos (that secretly we resented) or laughed self-consciously at obviously inside jokes, we’ve wondered why we weren’t invited or wished we still lived there or hated that we couldn’t afford it. We’ve all wished we were there.

Though this has happened to me many times – and though I really am super upset to miss the conference coming up next month – last year’s Beach Trip That Didn’t Happen has taught me something. Two things, actually.

First (and obvious, though I haven’t always done it) – Get off the internet! When you know something is happening out there, something you wish you could be a part of but can’t, don’t make yourself even more miserable!

Go offline for those few days. Avoid those blogs, turn off your push notifications from Instagram and Facebook, and read a book. Or watch a movie. Or take a walk. Just don’t sit in your car, in the rain, scrolling through pictures of the beach while crying. Just don’t. It’s kind of pitiful, it just makes things worse, and it kind of makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a country music video.

(And nobody wants that.)

Second (and my main takeaway from last year’s missed trip) – Remember why there’s no place like home. Whether or not you can see, in the moment, why it’s best for you to miss this trip, this conference, this retreat or not, you can find something about your current, stuck-at-home circumstance to be thankful for.

You saved money.
You didn’t have to go through security or put miles on your car.
You can skip makeup and wear pajamas if you want.
You get to spend the time with your family.
You won’t miss the after-school pick-up or the date night or the committee meeting or a day of work or your favorite show.
You can sleep in your own bed.
You can wear your comfy shoes – or no shoes at all.

For me, being home instead of at the beach turned out to be exactly what my family needed that week. And selling my ticket to Allume is smart, given how advanced my pregnancy will be by then.

But the only thing that really keeps me from losing my cool and resorting to tears and whining about the UNFAIRNESS OF IT ALL is remembering that God has plans – good plans – for me, and I’m right where I need to be. Even if that means I’m home, in my comfy pants and holey socks, playing CandyLand for the eighth time.

What do you do when you really want to be there (instead of here)?

P.S. I am going to the beach this year. So if you need to ignore my posts – which, I promise, really AREN’T trying to show off – for a few days, I understand!

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