Cool white sheets; tropical breeze whistling across the balcony; marble floor turning golden as the sun crests the rim of the ocean. Sand between toes; waves lapping at feet; holding hands; the other hand holding sea shells. Baking to a golden brown in a lounge chair; dipping in the cool pool; long, lazy, afternoon lunches. Shadows grow long; light goes gold. Dressing up; dining with friends in candlelight; dancing with joy in neon light; sleep until the sun is again upon the ocean.

As I write this, the weather is beginning to turn chilly in Nebraska, and we are just days away from Thanksgiving with Christmas not far behind. And yet, my thoughts are already beyond winter and the holidays. Little snippets of memories float and sometimes flash through my mind like vignettes made of fragmented images and sounds. I’m in Mexico, my happy place. I’ll be there again in January. It can’t come soon enough. It’s the one place I can go where, for an entire week, and I never once feel anxious.

As I’ve aged and developed traditions with my own immediate family, I’ve come to enjoy the holidays more, but they’re still not easy. I have some bad holiday memories from my childhood, and besides those past events, there is the present fact that I no longer see my side of the family. Some of my wife’s family are still Adventist, others are formers, and our disagreement over Adventism is the elephant that is continually in the room. It’s all terribly complicated, stressful, and a little sad. And now, as my children grow older and leave home, even those happy traditions we carved out for ourselves are beginning to fade away or at least to change. So I’m going to my happy place in my mind.

Lest I come across as overly maudlin, I will end up enjoying the holidays when all is said and done. I will be thankful for all God has done for my family and me as we celebrate Thanksgiving. I will rejoice in the birth of the Christ at Christmas. I will bask in the warmth and love of family. It will all be okay, but I suspect that I’m not the only former Adventist that sometimes feels like the holidays are something to “get through” at least on some level. I’m probably not the only one going to my happy place.

Maybe that’s okay. We’re continually reminded that this world is not as it should be. We’re continually faced with difficulties, disappointments, and stresses. It reminds us that this world is not our home. We look forward to a new heaven and a new earth when all will be made new and we are at peace. And occasionally, we get a tiny little taste of what Heaven might be like. For me, that taste is a nearly indescribable feeling of contentment, peace, rest, and relationship that I feel when I’m on a beach in Mexico, walking hand in hand with my wife. For you, it might be something else, but I believe these little glimpses of peace are emblematic of something much greater.

We have been given our ultimate rest in Jesus, and through Him we have peace with God. It’s something that we’re called to live in TODAY, each and every day. And even more, we’ve been promised eternal life with him in Heaven when all that is wrong with this world is finally made right forever. I know that ultimately my happy place isn’t Mexico; it just provides a pale taste of that true joy. My happy place is with Jesus in Heaven, and He let’s me experience some of that peace TODAY, everyday.

So, to my fellow formers out there looking to survive the holidays, remember, all this is temporary. All this will be made right. We can have peace now in Christ (even during the holidays) and on days when even that reality seems tenuous, never lose sight of the guarantee we have been promised: perfect peace with Him forever in the New Earth! I just hope there’s a beach.

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